Why We Make Disciples
Doing difficult things requires a strong sense of purpose.
Most of us are not the sort of people who are gluttons for punishment and invite needless pain upon ourselves. If we are going to press through difficulties, rather than give way in the face of them, we must be convinced that doing the hard thing is the right thing.
Whether it’s the heroic bravery of standing down a foreign invasion in Mariupol, doing the hard work of navigating a painful relationship or taking a risk at work, there are pain points involved that we will only push through if we believe the difficulty is worth it.
The work of making disciples of Jesus is not easy. Sharing the good news of Jesus with those who are not Christian is hard for many reasons. We aren’t sure what to say, how to say it, or when to say it. We are afraid of what speaking up will do to relationships we care about. The world despises what we have to say and Satan will do all that he can to thwart and discourage speaking of Christ with others. Sometimes we’re lazy, often we’re distracted, and, at the end of the day, we must admit that at times our love for God and others is too weak.
But it’s not just making new disciples that is hard. Having a disciple-making mindset includes helping our fellow Christians grow in maturity as well. Meeting with a fellow believer who is going through a difficult season of life to pray, blocking out time to read the Bible with someone, or sending notes of encouragement can be challenging and time-consuming.
And yet, we know—or should know, if we’ve ever read the Great Commission (Mt. 28:18-20)—that we’re supposed to be doing just that: making disciples. So, what is the compelling ‘why’ that will push us past the excuses and past the fears?
Let me provide you with four reasons why we should be eager and intentional about making disciples of Christ as individuals and as a church:
1. The Grandeur of God – We want to make disciples because there is a matchless glory to God that we want others to enjoy with us. Whether it’s the non-Christian person who is blinded by their unbelief or the Christian whose view of God is dim, disciple-making and disciple-maturing are about being instruments in God’s hands to awaken people to the all-satisfying beauty of God. We are helping people to see the wonder of God as He’s revealed to us in places like Revelation 7 as the one who sits on the throne, shepherding and sheltering His beloved people.
Reorienting our lives to the work of making disciples of Christ is like being a tour guide. When my wife and I traveled to Vienna, a place where she had previously lived, it gave her great joy to take me to her favorite places around the city. She wanted me to taste the beauty of Vienna as she had. In a similar way, all Christians should be motivated to make and mature disciples because we want to lead others to enjoy God as we ourselves have begun to enjoy Him.
2. The Need of the World – We also will be motivated to make disciples as we’re gripped by the plight of the world around us. The Bible’s teaching is that apart from a Spirit-given faith in Christ, the state of every person is one of spiritual rebellion and death. Our fallen nature means that we are hostile to God and cannot please God (Rom. 8:7-8). We are dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1). We are willing recruits in Satan’s army (Eph. 2:2). We were alienated from God (Col. 1:21) and destined for wrath (2 Thess. 1:8).
I still have a physical reaction when I think about the first time the force of these statements hit me. It was a big reason why I ended up pursuing training for full-time ministry. As I spent my days in the heart of Toronto, one of the world’s great cities, I sensed that I was surrounded by literally hundreds of thousands of people who—without Christ—were in peril of spending an eternity in hell. Unless they were told about Christ and became followers of him through faith (Rom. 10:13-17). Sensing that they had a need they did not perceive motivated me to make disciples of Christ.
3. The Grace We’ve Received – Knowing the plight that we have been rescued from is another reason why we should be motivated to make and mature disciples. The reward of the Christian disciple is not only to be freed from something terrible but brought to something wonderful. The author of Hebrews spells this out when he says those who have become Christians are no longer subject to the terrors of the law but have been brought to a heavenly celebration (Heb. 12:18-24). We join already in a heavenly party that we will one day experience in greater fullness!
If we are Christians who have tasted the sheer goodness of God, disciple-making is like inviting people to a party. It’s a joyful thing! We’re saying to people, “Join with me in coming to Jesus that we might celebrate with the angels in heaven the grace of God to sinners like us.” Having received grace, we should be motivated to share that grace with others.
4. The Cosmic Plan of God – God’s grandeur, the world’s need, and grace received all point to one additional motivation: God’s sweeping plan—one which spans all eternity—is that he would be gathering a community of people who would worship and enjoy Him forever. That disciple-making is part of this plan should motivate us to engage in it.
As people, we derive great significance in being a part of important moments in history. A grandfather will tell his grandchildren that he was part of the army that defeated Nazi Germany. A teacher might speak with appropriate pride at how she was able to be a part of a school’s mission to improve the lives of her students. We find meaning in being a part of a story bigger than ourselves!
When we adopt the mindset of someone who is called to make disciples of Christ, we become participants in the great story which God is unfolding. Paul spells out the storyline of the Bible in his letter to the Ephesians when he says that before the foundation of the world, God determined that He would redeem and purify a community of people whom He would dwell with forever (Eph. 1-2).
When we give ourselves to investing in relationships with gospel purpose, building up a fellow Christian through prayer or Scripture, or helping another Christian persevere through the trials of life, we are active participants in the grand purpose of creation. This is because God intends to gather this community of worshippers through weak and imperfect people who give themselves to being conduits through which His purposes are carried out.
No doubt, disciple-making is hard work with many challenges and heartbreaks. But it’s good news that God gives great motivation to His children as they engage in the work that He has called each of us to. And if these motivations are true, the question becomes: who is one person in your life—either a struggling Christian or someone who is not yet a Christian—that you can point them to Christ this week?
In His Service,
What Pastor Wayne is reading . . .
What Grieving Parents Wish You Knew
by Rebecca VanDoodewaard
Rebecca VanDoodewaard has written an article that I found helpful on how to minister to Christian parents who are grieving children who are walking in unrepentant sin. She draws on a range of anecdotes from parents who have borne this specific grief.
Selina, Countess of Huntingdon: Her Pivotal Role in the 18th Century Evangelical Awakening
by Faith Cook
As we celebrate mothers and other special women in our lives this weekend, one remarkable woman who I’m reading about currently is Selina Hastings. After her conversion in her 20’s, Hastings was a friend to the leading figures in the Great Awakening, a zealous evangelist, a generous contributor to gospel causes, and a supporter and organizer of many preaching stations in England. All this while enduring the death of a husband, four of her seven children, and a wayward son.
Presbygirls #5: On Charity w/ Rosaria Butterfield
by Presbygirls Podcast
If you are serious about trying to think about issues of same-sex attraction and gender identity through a biblical lens, you’ll want to engage with the work of Rosaria Butterfield. In this recent interview, Butterfield speaks in a very straightforward manner about some of the errors being embraced by some within presbyterian churches that says a Christian can embrace a homosexual identity while resisting homosexual practice (so-called Side B Christians). This interview from the new PresbyGirls podcast (no, I’m not a regular subscriber) will challenge your thinking (and perhaps step on some toes).