The great commission challenges us to go and make disciples. Last year, my church started a school to teach us how to be the solution to meeting the needs of the community and put the great commission into practice. We were learning how to disciple others; how to teach the Word. The school was teaching us to get outside our four walls and have relationships with others. I was all about learning these principles, but I was having a hard time putting it into practice. Forming relationships is tough business in this crazy world we live in today. It’s much easier to have community on-line. But I don’t think this is what we’re really supposed to do. It’s a good start, but nothing takes the place of one on one relationships.
If I look at the Bible for examples, Jesus and His followers did life together. They ate meals together and walked around together. They were all up in each others business. There was no “private” space. Much of the world around us (except in western culture) live in this way as well. In other cultures, neighbors are expected to come and go. There really isn’t much “personal” space. Single people don’t have privacy; they don’t live alone. Families live with other families. They all do life together. This is just not the case in western culture. We like our privacy. We like the fact that we have two thousand square feet of living space – not just for one family, but maybe for just one person alone! If we had to share our stuff we someone else, we might actually freak out.
I was listening to a forum on discipleship which brought out the fact that in order to disciple others we have to be in community; we have to have relationships. One of the speakers talked about a young man coming to live with him and his family. The young man was a new believer. He lived with the speaker for a year. Then the young man got engaged then married. When they married, they moved in with the speaker and his family to learn how to live as a couple – how to fight, how to ask for forgiveness, how to live as a married couple. This just sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But isn’t that the biblical way? I am reminded that we are not to do life alone. We are not meant to isolate ourselves. We are meant to have community that exists in the everyday life. Daily life is where we need the influence of one who has walked the road we’re on. Daily life is where the real life happens.
Jesus set the tone for us. He is our mentor on how to mentor others. It’s more than a one-on-one time with someone else; it’s many mentors speaking the truth into a person’s life in the community. The forum emphasized relationship building as the way to disciple others – the same emphasis that the school attempted to convey and multiplying the efforts – disciples disciple others. And the movement continues. It’s all good in theory! Relationship building is HARD. It takes time and effort. It will cost me something. Am I willing to pay the price? Are you? Is it time for the western church body to change its way of “doing church?”
Do we sit in church every week and absorb what the preacher is saying, but never apply what is heard? Do put he Bible down on the table when we get home and only pick it up to take the next Sunday? Is this really what Jesus had in mind when He said to go and disciple others in what is now known as the great suggestion? I feel like we have it all wrong. We are no longer seeing growing spiritually mature believers. We are in dangerous times spiritually speaking. One day we’re going to be in front of Jesus, and He will send those away who He doesn’t know. Someone will say, “I was in church every Sunday morning.” He will end up saying “I never knew you.” It’s sad to contemplate that thousands upon thousands will be turned away from an everlasting life with Jesus. They knew about Jesus, but they never surrendered to His Lordship. It’s all about the relationship! He can fix the mess!
Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 2 Timothy 4:2-3