By: Rev. Ed Schneider, M.P.Th.
2 Corinthians 5:20-21
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Matthew 28: 16-20
Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 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.” Amen.
Discipleship is an often used word within all Christian settings but seldom understood in a practical sense.
Discipleship is far more than just learning the words of Christ. It involves the individual’s willing and active transformation that results into becoming a devoted follower of the life, mission, and resurrected reality of Jesus Christ. With each passing day It involves a conscience advancement into becoming a thriving and vibrant leader for not only the “cause of Christ” but also to Christ himself. Leadership development that is founded upon ever expanding discipleship is not accomplished by accident or whim. No, it is intentional and without question….life altering.
Our future Christian leaders have to be intentionally nurtured, intentionally guided, intentionally developed and, most importantly, given frequent opportunities to succeed or fail. All Christian Churches and all born again believers are absolutely called to make disciples from every nation.
Above there are two scriptures that are printed. The first reminds us that we are not representing ourselves but Jesus. The second, Matthew 28:16-20, which is often referred to as the Great Commission, has prompted lesson after lesson for hundreds of years. Within these two scriptures there are three essential components that are essential for us to understand. They are the words “called” and “disciples” and the phrase “every nation.”I
The word “calling” means that we are given a sacred privilege to serve, support and represent the Creator’s glory and Christ’s kingdom on earth. This calling, unlike an obligation, is received freely by the person accepting it; thereby making an unbreakable covenant with the Creator. Again, a calling is not thrust upon you to the point where it becomes a torturous burden that one can hardly bear. It is a glorious, yet sometimes arduous privilege, to serve the Creator of all that is known and unknown.
Your CALLING is the emotional, physical, and spiritual lens you focus your thoughts and actions through. It is not partial or part-time. It is not a testimony. No! It is an acceptance of a Divine reality on the mission of your life.
The word “disciple” is far greater than the sum of it’s definition. Its technical definition relates to a student of a master-teacher, one who attempts continuously to learn from and to emulate the life, philosophies, and life applications of “the teacher” each disciple has committed to follow.
The word disciple denotes a person who has taken a dramatic leap of faith regarding that concept of following. This disciple is someone who instead of testing the water at the shallow end of the pool has decided to freely walk down to the deep end and jump right in. Jumping into the unknown with the expectation that safety and awareness will become fully clear as the master-teacher fines need.
We are called to make disciples. We are called to provide an environment that encourages others to jump into the deep end of the pool with us. We must develop disciples who are in love with, want to hear every word of, committed to the life applications, and the guidance from the master-teacher, Jesus.
Finally, we address the phrase “from every nation.” I think it is quite reasonable to assume that most Christian settings are dramatically failing at this essential part of our church’s calling and commission. We are far more willing to welcome people into our midst if they are willing to be exactly like us – and of course sit in the back until we are comfortable with the new face. A foundational reality of our faith is that we are called to demonstrate daily the theological application of moving outside the realm of our own comfort.
We cannot, and will not, be able to complete this directive from Christ if we are consistently compartmentalizing those who are in need of the “Greatest Story Ever Told.” Our children, our youth, and our young adults are not stupid. They watch us. They evaluate our demonstrated faith. The sad part is that they will emulate our actions. They will justify their inaction by our standards.
We are called to reach out to every grouping, every nationality, every culture, every economic distinction, every sinner, both big and small; those who are hurting, those who are fearful, those who are doubtful and even those who think we are absolute fools for believing as we do. No one is exempt from the message of a loving and gracious God who is able to resurrect even the worst of us.
God can, will, and does take any of us from where we are to where God wants us to be. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our youth could be secure in this simple and yet profound understanding of their faith.