Thesis Three: Discipleship is the foremost and primary concern of the Body
Discipleship. How can I make this more clear? Discipleship is to Christianity what parenting is to being a parent. The
Church was not called to evangelize. It was called to disciple. He said, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations..." Discipleship and evangelism are very different concepts. Evangelism is a message spoken to a
group of people in a passing-though manner. It is not specific because
you do not personally know all the people you are speaking to. What
Peter did on the Day of Pentecost was evangelism. What Paul did in
Corinth was discipleship, "So Paul stayed for a year and a half,
teaching them the word of God." Evangelism is good because it draws
people in to be disciples. But it does not even come close to satisfying what Jesus meant to
consume our lives and your responsibility to the one you lead to Jesus or the Bodies responsibility that you are apart of as that new babes family. Discipleship is very personal. It is invasive. It is consuming. Discipleship means you
eat together, work together, live together. Day in, day out sharing
Jesus and walking out his instruction and commands. This is the example that Jesus gave us with his disciples. When a person is an infant they are
watched over with the utmost care. As they grow older they are given
greater degrees of freedom and responsibility based on maturity.
Believers in Christ should be treated the same way. When someone is new
to the Lord they should live with a seasoned believer that can be there
for them in the difficult times, to answer their questions when they are
asked, and teach in a living, organic matter; the same way we teach our
physical children to live. And to teach them to eventually do the same for another. No
one sits down once or twice a week with their children and teaches them
their lesson for the week and then sends them on their way. Neither
should we do so with the children of God.
To show the necessity of this invasive style of discipleship and to instruct those new to the faith consider this:
"If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell."
We have gotten this whole conversion thing backwards. The usual scenario goes something like this: A person feels the tug of the spirit on their heart and they either seek out a church or someone they know to be a Christian. They are then told who Jesus was, what he did and the sacrifice he made to redeem them. With the tug of the spirit pulling on their heart and the weight of who Jesus is and what he did for them they are asked, "Do you want to give your life to Jesus?" Of course! How could I not! They are told to meet with believers regularly, read the Bible, pray often, and try to beat sin. Then they are sent back to their homes and to the same life they has just so fleetingly left for Jesus. Let me tell you how a conversion looked in Jesus' day.
"As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 'Come, follow me,' Jesus said, 'and I will send you out to fish for people.' At once they left their nets and followed him. When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets, Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him."
"As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector's booth. 'Follow me,' Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him."
What we are seeing is this: Christians today are 'saved' in their sin and then are told that they should, little by little, work sin and influence out of their lives. Hopefully, when they die they will have taken a good portion of the world out of their lives. This is damagingly inverted. When one lays down his life and picks up his cross to follow Jesus he should retreat as far out of the world as it takes to get to a place of righteousness. Even if that means living in the desert as John the Baptist did. Gouge out your eye! Cut off your hand! Then, as they mature in the Spirit, He heals their infirmity and teaches them wisdom. They then find ways to venture back out into the world always maintaining their place of righteousness to fall back on. By the end of their life they should be a mature adult in Christ able to walk among the demons as Paul did and fearlessly preach the Gospel. This is going to be very costly to the new disciple. This is why Jesus sent away some who claimed to want to be his disciple and said, "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won't you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough to complete it?"
The cost has been counted, the life lain down, and the cross picked up and now comes the love that Jesus spoke of and walked in comes in for us who are trying to save souls and bring sheep into the fold. This is the where the love that we all claim that He has planted in our hearts as a flourishing, fruitful tree is put into practice. You who are mature must take these babes into your homes! If they have to quite their jobs, pay the bills for them! If they need you to be there to keep them busy so they will not fall back into sin, do it! A newborn needs constant care. Day and night. Fed. Washed. Cuddled and comforted. Compassion, affection, and love but also firm boundaries that forbid them from going where they are not capable of being safely.
All the 'Church' has done is create feral children. Have you ever seen or read about a feral child? If not google it. It's important you understand what we are doing to these, the children of the King! What happens is a child is born. If a child is neglected from birth it will die. And that happens a lot in the Church. But there is something more sinister and destructive. It is when a child is abandoned at four, five, or six years old. Technically old enough to care for it's physical needs, but completely underdeveloped emotionally and spiritually. They wander the woods or live in the dark corners of a basement. They do not know how to speak or operate socially. They are aggressive and only see to their own needs. They do not know how to love or how to accept love. They cannot be rehabilitated. They are ruined for life! This is what we have done to his children. A child is born into the kingdom of God and they are given just enough nutrients and teaching to begin to care for themselves and then are abandoned all together or are neglected. Visited from time to time and thrown a bone to satisfy our sense of responsibility. It's evil!
When Jesus was told his mother, brothers, and sisters were looking for him he replied, "Who are my mother, brothers, and sisters? It is those who do the will of God." The Body is a family. And that is not just a nice thing to say. There are immediate family members and extended family spiritually, and they should be treated as well and better than we treat our physical families. We must live together, work together, play together, learn together, suffer together, and die together. This is the example and pattern Jesus, the Apostles, and the early church gave for creating and caring for disciples. It is the only way to raise the Children of God to become mature adults that are equipped to serve the Master and do the same for others as they are born into the kingdom. "Greater love has no man than this: That he lay down his life for his friends." To die for someone you love is noble and honorable. But how much more that you live for them! Lay down your life for your brothers, Jesus' brothers! Your plans, your dreams, your ambitions, your time and your assets. "I tell you the truth! Whatever you do for the least of these brothers of mine you do for me!"
Feel free to comment or ask questions!