“Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men.” – Jesus (Mark 1:17)
As a follow up to a message a preached from Titus 2:1-10 I’m writing this series about making disciples. As a church our vision / mission is to “Glorify God through lives transformed and a city changed by the power of the gospel”. A whole city is only changed as individual lives are transformed and that means people are being introduced to, falling in love with and following Jesus into new life. This glorifies our Father in Heaven – new Christians in love with and living for him. The point of the gospel is people meeting Jesus and the power of the gospel is alone what makes this possible.
It was this lifestyle, mission and calling into which Christ invited his disciples. “Follow Me” was a call to be a disciple, to which he added “I will make you fishers of men.” Translation, “part of you following me will be learning to teach others to do the same”. In fact he commanded it at the conclusion of his earthly ministry.
Multiplying ourselves is part of life. We’re born, raised by parents, mature, marry and have kids of our own. Part of being human means making more of ourselves. It’s no different as Christians. Being alive in Christ includes seeing others come alive to Christ.
It’s this reproductive process of disciple making that we are examining here. In Part One we began with the very important, but often over looked part of making disciples – prayer. If God is the author of salvation (Heb 12:2) it’s too him we must first turn. Contrary to the unspoken hopes of many, it does not end there. We have a physical role to play in making and multiplying disciples. Fortunately for us, what Jesus calls us to, he exemplified himself. We can certainly learn from those who lead us to Jesus, but as Paul himself said, “follow me as I follow Christ.” If someone is doing discipleship well, they are just doing it like Jesus.
Disciple Making Takes Investment
Right from the start there is a challenge that confronts our heart. If we are going to lead people to know, love and serve Jesus we have to be willing to lay down our own lives and invest ourselves fully in theirs.
I think there’s two big reasons God designed it this way. First, for me to willing humble myself enough to care about others good at the expense of my own, something needs to happen in my own heart. Only the gospel fully frees us form ourselves, because only the gospel liberates us from sin that keeps us enslaved to selfish passions and self-serving pursuits. Sin makes me in love with me and mine, the grace of God frees me to love and serve others. So when Jesus sends us out to make disciples he’s getting us to examine ourselves first. Are you a disciple?
The second reason I believe Jesus calls us to make disciples is that disciple making keeps us dependant upon him. “Apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) Strong words that we need to take to heart. If you are not abiding in Christ, you wont be fruitful for Christ. Many can read these words as condemnation on our lack of mission. For some it’s conviction of relying too much on ourselves. But let’s think for a minute, Jesus says you can’t without me and then he implements a system that will require him. Seems like this passage is also a great encouragement that Jesus wants to abide with us. So much so that he calls us into something that necessitates us hanging with him. Grace is always the message f the gospel.
You and I faithfully engaging in the mission of making and multiplying disciples will not only bear kingdom fruit but personal fullness of joy as well. (See 15:11). When we make disciples we mature as disciples. When we see joy take root in others through the hearing of the good news our joy swells as well.
So how do invest in others?
1. Get to know people. Learn to listen to people. Look around you. Unless you’re a hermit, there are people. Introduce yourself to others at church, at work, in your neighborhood. Make yourself known for the sake of meeting others. Ask good questions about their lives, their family and their hopes and dreams. You don’t have to be pushy or over bearing, just be interested. And here is the thing, you will be interested when you remind yourself that’s what God did for you, he took interest. He cared about and entered into your space.
2. Serve people. Not as projects, but as people. Where are places in your city that are doing a good job serving people? Where is God at work meeting needs? How can you help contribute to the good of others? What’s missing in your neighborhood? Are there single moms or widowed wives? When you’re outside working or playing in your yard who’s doing the same? Is there a project going on at your neighbors house? How could you help? It’s simple really. It’s just being aware and being willing.
3. Commit to a relationship. Is there someone at work, in your neighborhood or in your church that would benefit from regular time with you? Before you say to yourself “I have nothing to offer,” remind yourself that’s not true. If you have Jesus you have enough. You are human, have breath, have a story and have the Holy Spirit. You are a great candidate. In our aversion to disciple making we often look around and see only what we want to see and its usually people we can make the most excuses about. Who around you could use regular planned time with someone who will listen to them, serve them and share what they know about Jesus with them from their own life? Answer: pretty much all of us. Who could you make a commitment to in the coming months to meet with, pray for and serve once a week, every other week, or monthly. Whatever you both have time for as long as it’s intentional and regular.
4. Invest with others. We all need accountability. One of the best ways to help you regularly invest in people is to find ways to invest alongside others. What ministries and missions are going on in which you could take part? Where are others doing kingdom work? They would love the help and you could use the help. Perfect win win combination.
So what step could you take this week? Take a walk and meet a neighbor? Listen to a co-worker? Invite someone to lunch? Read the paper and find out what’s happening in your city where you could invest? The point is, pray and make a plan. Abide in Jesus and ask him to lead trusting that as you see opportunities It is him leading you.
You can do it. Christ has promised his presence and power.