Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20).
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you (Matthew 6:33).
The church of the Lord Jesus Christ has been given very clear instructions about what our priorities should be in this world. In Matthew 28:19-20 we are told very clearly and simply what we as the church are commissioned as a body to do. We are called to make disciples. We are called, as we move in the power of the Holy Spirit, to passionately and deliberately share the gospel of Jesus Christ with a world that desperately needs to hear and receive it. We are then very deliberately and purposefully to help people who respond and receive Christ as their Lord and Savior to grow in their faith.
The glorious and wonderful work of making disciples is a huge and critical calling. It is of great importance that we understand what the Great Commission says and means. Also, it is so very important that we grasp how to do it. We need to understand what making a disciple is and what it is not.
We are to faithfully do at least two things. First, we are called to become disciples ourselves. Then, we are called to make other disciples. We are supposed to follow the Lord Jesus Christ and to teach others how to do the same.
A true disciple is a passionate follower of Jesus Christ. One who is learning truth from the Word of God and the Spirit of God and faithfully applying it. A disciple is faithfully seeking to grow in their knowledge of Christ and His will. Then, he or she is faithfully seeking to live it out.
Now, what a disciple is not. A disciple is not someone who has simply received Christ as Savior and then proceeds to live life as he or she wishes. Nor is a disciple someone who is saved and attends church and gives some of their money to the work and mission of the church. A disciple is not merely a regular churchgoer. Nor is a disciple one who hears a sermon, approves or disapproves of it and tells the preacher how much he or she liked (or didn’t like) the message on the way out the door. A disciple is not someone who only attends church school regularly, adds his or her two cents worth of commentary, and departs having discharged his or her duty in church for the week. There is much more to discipleship than that.
The story is told of two little boys, Reggie and Ra Ra. Reggie said to Ra Ra “I taught my dog how to whistle.” Ra Ra responded, “Wow, that’s great! That is really somethin’! A dog that whistles!” Then Ra Ra paused and said “Wait a minute. I’ve been with you and your dog all day and I haven’t heard him whistle.” Reggie then replied, “I said I taught ‘em how. I didn’t say he learned it.”
Too often the plight of Reggie and his dog is the plight of people in the church. Information and truth are preached and taught. Yet that same information and truth are often neither learned nor applied. Again, a disciple is not just someone who hears and acknowledges truth. A disciple is one who is faithfully learning truth and seeking to live it out.
Discipleship includes the work of putting to use in our lives some of the basic “building blocks” of the Christian faith. The word PRO is an acronym which summarizes three of those basic building blocks. The letter “P” stands for prayer. Every faithful disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ is called to have a sustained and passionate prayer life (Philippians 4:6-7). The letter “R” stands for reading. Every disciple is called to be a faithful student of the Word of God who reads and meditates on it daily. (I like to encourage the goal of reading at least three chapters in the Bible daily. See Psalms 1 and 19) The letter “O” stands for obedience. Every disciple is called to be one who hears and obeys the Word of God (James 1:22). We are to disciple our spouse, children, and anyone else God leads us to disciple.
To say it another way, we are each called to draw closer to the Lord daily and to help and encourage others to draw closer to the Lord as well. A disciple should strive to live a prayer-filled life every day spending much time reading and meditating on the Word.
Two very big questions to ask ourselves are: “Am I living the life of a faithful follower of Jesus Christ?” And “who am I discipling?” If the answer to those questions is “No” and “I don’t know” or “no one” then this needs to change today. There is too much work to be done for any of the Lord’s servants to be idle.