For three weeks, we will be discussing “Basic Discipleship.” If discipleship is a Biblical command, we must be constantly asking, “Who am I discipling?” and “Who is discipling me?” If you would like some resources about how you can get involved in a discipleship relationship, please contact FBC Robinson of Robinson, IL.
“Go and make disciples.” – Matthew 28:19
With those four words, Jesus gave us our mission. The entirety of the Christian mission can be summed up with “go and make disciples.” Entire books and studies have been written to fire up believers to make disciples. Sermons have been preached and blogs have been posted. But I’m afraid that we’re no closer to being or making disciples today than we were when we first accepted Christ.
The problem is this: we don’t know what a disciple looks like. Does he teach? Does he learn? Does he believe something? Does he do something? What are the things that he does that qualify him as a disciple? Do we even know what we’re doing here?
Another problem is that we fail to view discipleship as a horizontal relationship. Instead, we view a vertical hierarchy with a strict mature teach/immature student relationship. We don’t want to put ourselves in either scenario, so we don’t disciple. But discipleship is much more horizontal – with peers, brothers and sisters in Christ investing in one another. “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).
The Bible is full examples of disciples – Jesus 12 Apostles, Luke and Mark in the book of Acts, and Timothy. Everywhere Paul stopped to minister, he made disciples. Paul had a great relationship with the people in Thessalonica. We see a great example of his discipleship relationship with the church there in 1 Thessalonians 2:7-12.
Paul related as a nurturer. “Although we could have been a burden as Christ’s apostles, instead we were gentle among you, as a nursing mother nurtures her own children” (1 Thessalonians 2:7). Paul cared for the church like a mother cares for her infant. He was determined to meet their every spiritual need. And just as a mother is uniquely equipped to feed her baby, Paul was uniquely equipped to care for the church in Thessalonica. And you are uniquely equipped to invest in others.
Paul related as a friend. “We cared so much for you that we were pleased to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us” (1 Thessalonians 2:8). Paul didn’t teach down to the church. He shared life with them. They ate together. They worked together. They worshipped together. They became genuine friends. Their relationship was peer to peer, not master to servant.
Paul related as a role model. “You are witnesses, and so is God, of how devoutly, righteously, and blamelessly we conducted ourselves with you believers” (1 Thessalonians 2:10). Paul’s character was described as devout, righteous, and blameless. And I lost you. That’s a lot of pressure. But we have to remember, Paul wasn’t perfect. He simply lived the best he could in God’s will. And that is how we are called to live. Most of us will give up trying to be a role model because we don’t think we are good enough. But we are called to make disciples. We are called to live Godly lives. Let this be a wake up call to be obedient, not an excuse to continue in our sin!
Paul related as an encourager. “As you know, like a father with his own children, we encouraged, comforted, and implored each one of you to walk worthy of God, who calls you into His own kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12). Like a father encouraging his son, Paul encouraged the church in Thessalonica. I can hear him encouraging them, “you are growing so much!” I can hear him comforting them, “your sins are behind you.” I can hear him imploring them, “you can do better!”
The command to make disciples doesn’t have to be difficult. In the coming posts, we’ll look at discipleship a little deeper. But for now, ask yourself, “Who am I investing in and who is investing in me? Who am I discipling and who is discipling me?”