I’m afraid that we’ve lowered the bar with our definition of a biblical Christian lifestyle. We fire off some good philosophical definitions and traits we “believe” would define the lifestyle of a biblical disciple, but practically we accept a brand of immature, bland, ignorant, milquetoast, and defeated spirituality.
We’ve lowered the bar so far that we are tripping over it, and the church has fallen from God’s intended design. We’ve given up God’s ideal of love and community for good worship, engaging teaching, and exciting children’s ministry. None of these things are wrong. In fact, each of them is important.
However, we’ve failed to begin with the end in mind. Our organizational goal is not spiritual formation; it is “butts in seats”. Our individual goal is not Christ-likenes; it’s freedom from discomfort.
We are aligned to our goals. We want more butts in our seats so we do flashy and exciting things that aren’t changing lives. We want to be free from pain so we ignore the cross Jesus asked us to carry.
We must have the same goals Jesus set for us or we will wind up in the wrong place. We must raise the bar or we will keep tripping over our lowered expectations.
There is a general movement towards disciple making. Catalyzed by David Platt, Francis Chan, Alan Hirsch, Mike Breen, Neil Cole, Hugh Halter, Ed Stetzer, Eric Geiger, Jesus of Nazareth, and others, disciple making is the new buzzword, and it is making trending in every major denomination and catching fire among those without denominational ties.
During a conversation about ministry, a friend told me that all this “making disciples” nonsense was just a fad, and he wasn’t going to get involved with it.
His reaction towards the idea that Christ had called us to make disciples shocked me. He, actually, looked me in the eye and said, “ I know you’re on this disciple making kick, but I’m not because Jesus only mentioned it ‘once or twice’.”
Normally, I’d have questioned his salvation to his face, branded him a heretic within the church, and mocked him incessantly for the rest of the night until I swayed him to my way of thinking.
But, something strange happened. In the Spirit of congeniality, and because we were, fervently, discussing something else, I let that comment slide.
Still, it stuck with me. For one, I believe that Jesus’ whole mission was making disciples, and He handed down that mission to us. I don’t believe that because Francis Chan or Ed Setzler said it; I believe it because I’ve read His story.
1.) The call to being a disciple maker was seeded within Jesus’ call to His own disciples. He invited Peter to leave the life of a fisherman and become a fisher of men.
2.) He spent the majority of His time away from the masses with His disciples. He trained them, lived with them, corrected them, ate with them, and cried with them. He, literally, imparted His life to them.
3.)The last thing He told His disciples was that they should go and make disciples of all nations.Disciple making is the primary vocation of Christians.
4.) Since the book of Acts, Jesus’ work on earth, through the power of His Spirit has been discipling making.
Even if you don’t believe those things, how can you ignore a clear command of Christ?
I’m a big fan of obeying Jesus. I think that listening to Christ is a huge part of what it means to follow Him.
How is something unimportant because Jesus only mentioned it once or twice?
How many times does Jesus need to repeat Himself?
Jesus is only recorded as saying that we should love God and love others in two instances. (Mark 12 & Matt 22 seem to refer to the same incident with a Pharisee, while Luke 10 records a similar interaction with a lawyer.) Should we not take the call to love seriously?
I think we should be pretty darn careful before we blow off anything Jesus says, even if He only says it once.
We can wonder how loving God looks in 2013 as compared to year 0030. The context has changed, but the command has stayed the same. We cannot cancel the commandment for the sake of our own comfort.
I haven’t yet got around to finishing that conversation with my friend. He’s been so busy with ‘church stuff’ that we don’t get time to discuss the scriptures.