And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)
The most interesting thing about the Great Commission is that it does not command us to make converts of Christianity or to bring people inside the walls of a church to become members. We are called to make disciples of Jesus Christ as He modeled in the Holy Scriptures.
Often people confuse making and disciples with making converts and understanding this difference is crucial.
Converts follow a system. Disciples follow a Person.
Converts build Christendom. Disciples build the Kingdom of God.
Converts embrace rituals. Disciples embrace a way of life.
Converts love the command to “baptize them” in the Great Commission, but that is all.
Disciples baptize others but only in context of “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.”
Converts love conversion. Disciples love transformation.
The great commission has nothing to do with being in the ‘church’ but everything to do with Being the church, the Bride of Christ that Jesus has called us to become.
Discipleship is a lifestyle, a way of living, which takes place on a moment by moment basis, by centering ourselves in Christ and in practicing the spiritual disciplines of our Faith, on a daily basis, with intentionality. Discipleship takes place in modeling this lifestyle, in the flux of life, nor is it separated based on where we are or whom we are spending time with.
Discipleship takes us slowing down enough to spend the time with people as Jesus did with his disciples, on a one by one individual basis, and in small groups where we live in community with one another. It is in our meeting together in a regular fashion outside of any ‘institutional church’, or Faith-Based fellowship. It is when we enter into one another’s lives, having open discussions, being honest with ourselves and each other, when we learn to pray together, worship corporately, and have our lives integrated in the sincere caring and concern for one another, where we learn to be disciples of Christ.
God is personal and relational with us as individuals, meeting us right where we are, so it is in our relationships where His Holiness cuts, prunes, and further washes away our fleshly habits and impurities we as humans have within us, where Christ manifests Himself, calling us into the depth, width and height of His Love. He calls us to a closer walk with Him, by entering into deeper relationships with one another.
It is in becoming vulnerabile in opening up those spaces within ourselves where we touch each other’s hearts with the humanity given to us in Christ, where we learn to bear our sisters and brothers burdens, where we learn to be encouragers, supporters, lifting up and edifying one another as we walk in fellowship with one other spurring each other to become true disciples and followers of His ways.
Discipleship is living, breathing, and being Christ in everyday life to all of whom we encounter. It is being Christ to the poor, to the outcast, to the widows, to those lonely, to those isolated, to the mentally and/or physically challenged, to the sick, the differently abled, and to All we meet, not discriminating, ignoring or rejecting, but through embracing. Living as Christ’s disciples calls us to Embrace Everyone we encounter with the same Compassion and Love Christ embraced us with.
Discipleship is not being part of the ‘Christian Club’ where you have to have things to buy your way into it belonging to this elite group, or are told to give, give, give to support a churches’ commitments.
It is not about having the proper housing, car, material goods, or prestige as a leader, although many profess it is, saying they have these things as God’s blessings. How many scriptures speak to the issue that the root of all evil is the love of money.
What do scriptures speak about when concerning God’s house being one of prayer, not one where financial transactions take place and where people profit off the backs of the poor, due to manipulation of quoting well timed scriptures before the offering, etc.
True disciples pour out from the depths of their lives, daily, onto others, regardless of who they are, regardless of how others view them, regardless of receiving judgements, regardless of being ostracized by the religious sects at work today, and when they give, they do so out of an Obedience to God, and not falling prey to man’s doctrine to give.
Disciples live to Please God in All matters, in All situations, and with All interactions with any person, in any church, or with any ‘spiritual leader’. Many leaders do not have it all together, nor do they know everything, nor are they always right about their decisions or actions taken.
We have been given God’s Spirit to discern the way ourselves, which includes sifting anyone’s teaching through His Holy wisdom, making sure our flesh is not biasing the spirit’s calling in our lives, and aligning with God’s Truth and His Word with all persons, no matter who they are or who people make them out to be.
We willingly remain open to correction, instruction in Righteousness and be growing in our spirituality and ability to discern what and who is of God and what and who is not, for our own protection. So, it becomes necessary we remain walking and abiding in God’s Spirit of Truth, relying on His wisdom and discernment.
We need to be intentional about pursuing Holiness in our Faith walk, incorporating those things that feed our spirit into our daily regimens. Each of us need to be contemplatively and meditatively reading the scriptures ourselves, hiding His word in our hearts, guarding our minds, and standing firm, so we know His promises and truth.
It becomes necessary for us to set apart alone time, shutting out all distractions, entering into the sacred space of Holies of Holies, touching the Mercy of our God, communing in Him, learning to be still in order to recognize His voice. It is in His presence He further draws us closer to Him, showering us with His goodness, His Faithfulness, filling us with His all encompassing love for us.
It is in these spaces we create where we become intimate with our Father God, where our desire is to be with Him, where we hunger in eager anticipation of being alone in Him, not requesting, not asking for anything, just being in Him, with Him, near Him.
Our spiritual lives require that we become centered in praying in all situations, ceaselessly, interceding for others, as prayer changes our hearts. So dear to our hearts is prayer, that it becomes our first response when we enter into ministering the Grace of God in our lives to those we cross paths with.
Prayer becomes the foundational basis we lay on which our Faith is activated by the power that is released when the Spirit is loosed into the lives of those we intercede on behalf of. Prayer becomes a way to subsist in our Faith, as we rely on the supernatural entities God sends forth, fighting battles, on our behalf to actively accomplish those works He has purposed to be fulfilled in and through our obedience.
Our purposed participation in worshiping Him, no matter what we feel, no matter what situation we find ourselves enduring, sparks the flames of fire within our hearts, for when we lifts our hearts in gratitude and thanksgiving towards Him, He lifts us up in the Heavenly Realms, where our oppression from those things of this world become strangely dim and we partake of His Glories, where our hearts only wish is to be in Him all our days.
We are to be Radically Different when we become Christ’s Disciples, having no place where we compromise, no place where we give in, standing firm in Him, as He gives us ability, as we become conformed in all our manners and ways to His way of living, incorporating our entire hearts, in dedicated consecration and Holiness unto Him.
Communities centered around mission are the heart of what God has called His Church to be and do. Time to be discerning folks and follow The Christ as He has called us to be culturally different, not aligning with society’s norm of Christianity, but the one Jesus modeled as written in the Holy Scriptures.
So, until that day we are ushered into our final dwelling place with Him, let us continue to be about our Father’s business, pursuing Holiness, clothing our inner persons with all manner of Godliness, making our Faith walk an intentionally purposed practice in our daily regimen, so we can grow and mature as the spiritual offspring Christ’s Life, whose blood was shed that we could be reconciled to Him in all eternity, and we could be participators of His Glorious Kingdom on earth, through His supernatural empowerment of His Holy Spirit.
Lorraine Taylor – Lay Minister