One failure of the church in this modern time is making disciples of Jesus Christ.
This is the thought that has run in my mind these past few days. It is not a statement borne out of ignorance. It is clear in churches today. Many are the people who claim to have followed Christ but few are those who really committed their life to become like Him in character and even in His suffering.
David Platt once preached about Matthew 4:17-22. I learned from him the three categories of disciples in the Bible: There’s the casual disciple, majority of the people who followed Jesus and listened to His teachings fall on this category. They are the people who happened to just like Jesus and His lessons but never really digging into them. Then comes the convinced disciples. These are people who like His teachings, convinced about them and wanted to know more. But when Jesus began teaching the things that are hard to swallow, they stopped on their tracks, not really wanting to do every thing Jesus’ commanded. Lastly, there’s the committed disciple. Few belong to this category. They are people who were with the Lord wherever He went. They followed Him all the way to His arrest and after His resurrection, went on to die in spreading His message. Which of the categories do you belong?
Taking Matthew 4:17-22, Luke 5:1-11, and David Platt’s sermon, I learned the following principles:
A committed disciple of Jesus Christ lives a life of repentance. Before Jesus went on to call the first four of His disciples, He was preaching about repentance in the countryside and the villages. No once can be a serious disciple of Jesus Christ without repenting of his sins. Repentance is not a mere change of mind, it involves a change of the whole heart and actions. It is not just a one time event; it involves a lifetime of transforming the mind and heart and actions.
Sadly, what is happening in churches today is the devaluing of repentance. We have put so much emphasis on having a peaceful relationship with God and forgot that to have that relationship, we must have a change of heart first. Having a new relationship with God is essential but we must have a new relationship with sin as well.
Secondly, a committed disciple lives a life of radical obedience. Peter, Andrew, James and John were busy when Jesus called them. Yet, they “immediately” left what they were doing to follow Him. Is “busyness” your excuse not to follow Jesus Christ wholeheartedly? These fishermen were doing their job for a living yet they were willing to leave it all behind to become fishers of men. James and John even left their father alone to finish their work. Radical obedience is taking Jesus worthier than time with our friends, our comfort, or even the regard of our families.
Lastly, I learned that a committed disciple lives a life of resolute dependence. Wholehearted followers of Jesus Christ depend their life on the Lord’s grace alone. The command “Follow me” is an invitation to trust what Jesus can do. It is trusting Him and having His own way in us even if we think we are experts on what we do. It is trusting that only God can “make us fishers of men.” When Jesus called His disciples, He did not ask them to bring their diplomas, titles, medals, trophies, hidden talents, etc. with them. He just called them to follow Him and trust that out of these lowly Galileans, He would bring out people who would turn the world upside down.
I think the church should begin making committed disciples now and stop settling for casual converts. If you are a part in the body of the Jesus Christ’s church and wants the Great Commission obeyed in your local church, making disciples starts with you becoming a committed follower of Jesus Christ. However, do consider the cost. Don’t be like a man who started building a tower and failing to finish it because he ran out of budget.
The challenges of being a committed disciple: living a life of repentance and forsaking the pleasures of any sin; living a life of radical obedience and forsaking my comfort and even my family’s respect; living a life of resolute dependence on Jesus Christ and forsaking my “self-sufficiency.”
Have you decided?