Today was an awesome day for our church family and we were so moved by the entire service, and after service, we discussed how it was the simple gospel that moved us. Some of us Christians love to get deeper and search for deeper meaning in all that is around us, but let us never lose our love for Jesus and the simple gospel story. I say all this to illustrate that often the simple things get overlooked, passed over, or just assumed. This is why I have such a love for the life story of Billy Graham and how he knew his mission, to preach the gospel. He kept it simple but had such an impact for Christ, and he knew it was never about him, his giftings, or even his own needs.
Continuing on with the 7 days of discussion about discipleship, we are reading from Ephesians 6:11-16 (NIV).
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
I could teach and preach on this for a month, but I wanted to pull a few nuggets from this passage. Churches are filled with paid staff in western culture and this is a good thing, but it also allows for a mindset that may be holding us back as well. The church looks to the paid pastor or leadership of the church as the master disciplers (not really a word), if we just come in the doors, they will minister and all is well. This passage explains that the ones called within the five-fold offices of the church are equippers and not just ministers. It is every believer’s commission to make disciples and it is the job of the leadership to equip the church to do it. I remember being on staff at a church and the motto for discipleship was “it happens each Sunday Morning” and while this can be part of the process, it would be incomplete.
Discipleship is personal and life-giving. It is not necessarily a class or certificate of achievement in our churches, it is a purposeful effort to impart truth in love to someone else so they are encouraged, equipped and will eventually do the same. Discipleship is so simple that the only ingredients are love, time and effort. However, in our fast-paced culture, those three things often come at some cost to ourselves.
In Luke 9:57-62, we read about some excuses for delaying our obedience to Jesus, but I believe Jesus was not being harsh as much as he was illustrating a larger problem. There will always be something more personal, more self-fulfilling, or entertaining when confronted with discipleship opportunities. We can read that passage of scripture and easily interpret it as Jesus not having compassion for a man who lost his father, but Jesus was speaking to the repetition of our delay, not a singular moment.
What are some of the excuses we put up for not giving new believers and the lost our time and effort? Something to think about and it sure is making me think on a daily basis.