February 10, 2019 - Inscriptions From The Heart
The word “disciple” or its noun form, “discipleship,” is not a word found in common conversation in our day and age. If you Google the meaning of the word, most definitions attribute it to Christianity and specify disciples as “followers of Jesus.” It is thus often heard in church lingo, but even in the church the term has lost some of its true meaning. Ask young believers today and many of them will define discipleship as “hanging out with others,” or “doing good things for others.” While those two points are important aspects of discipleship, the crux of it can be found in the Great Commission itself: “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Anyone can hang out with another person, but we as Christians have been instructed by Jesus to walk closely with others and lead them to live lives that glorify Him through obedience to His commands. It's a hefty responsibility, which leads me to my excuses for not having made any disciples yet (and why my excuses are really quite silly in light of God's promises).
Don't Have the Qualifications
When God told Moses to go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt in Exodus 3 and 4, Moses had a whole list of reasons as to why he couldn't possibly be the one to bear such a great responsibility. I find myself thinking the same way, telling God, “I don't know the Bible well enough,” or “I don't know the answers to everything,” and especially “I'm such a messed up person, how can I possibly teach someone to obey all Your commands when I can't even do the same myself?” God knows all of this, though. He knows just how much we don't know and how far we fall short of His command to be holy just as He is holy. For Moses, God fully equipped him to be the one to face down Pharaoh and demand that the Israelites be freed from Egypt (He told Moses exactly what to say, gave him miracles to perform in the Egyptians’ presence, even used his brother Aaron to speak for him when he was too afraid to). We have God's help just as fully through His Holy Spirit who lives inside us. Basically, in the exodus from Egypt, it was all God's power working. Moses just got to be the one that God demonstrated His power through. We get that same opportunity every single day when we disciple others: we have the Holy Spirit's power working in and through us to build His kingdom and bring His people closer to Him.
Won't Meet the Expectations
Despite knowing exactly what I just said in the above paragraph, I have still yet to disciple even one person in my life. To be frank, this is because I am scared of failure. I'm afraid that I won't be able to properly connect with who I'm discipling, that they'll not listen to me, or that I will one day say the wrong thing to them and irreparably fracture our relationship. I'm also scared of the hurt that I may potentially go through if our relationship goes sour. The problem with that excuse is my definition of what “failure” actually is. I'm worrying about potential negative outcomes when what God really wants is my commitment and obedience to Him despite the prospect of hardship. In His eyes, I have already failed by being unwilling to make disciples; in essence, I am sinning against Him by disobeying the Great Commission.
God is not so concerned with what I can accomplish but rather who I am as a person. Just like with Moses in Egypt, He is the one doing the work of changing hearts and drawing people to Himself. In His awesome goodness and wisdom and unfathomable love for us, He gives us believers the opportunity to join Him in that miraculous work. I hope and pray that this year, I stop being hard-hearted and instead be obedient to the Great Commission, joining God in His work of raising up people who love Him and obey His commands.