Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Making Obedient Disciples- Are we willing to shake the dust off?

One of the most important keys to seeing the release of a Disciple Making Movement is the development of a norm for discipleship that includes accountability to practically obey the Word of God.  As we learn what His Word says, we must be committed to put actions to what we are understanding.  Without this, movements of disciples will never begin to multiply.

Jesus speaks about this principle when he tells the parable of the man who built his house on the rock as opposed to the man who built on the sand (Matt. 7:24).  The wise man is the one who hears and obeys.  Throughout the gospels we see that those who were truly Jesus' disciples practiced immediate obedience to His commands.  When Jesus called His first disciples- Peter, Andrew, James and John in Matt 4:18-22, it says that they "immediately" left their nets and followed Him.  He goes on to tell his disciples in Matt 16:24, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me."  Similarly, in Luke 14:24-35, He speaks of the cost of discipleship. Following Jesus and obedience to His commands must be a higher loyalty than to family, culture, community or possessions.  Jesus spoke these words to a community oriented, not individualistic culture.  In fact he said it so strongly that he even used the word hate when he described the degree to which we must be willing to put Jesus above any other loyalties, including family obligations.  When faced with the man who wanted to first bury his father, Jesus said "Let the dead bury the dead."  These are strong and serious words that we can not ignore as disciples and disciple makers!

In many of our disciple making and church planting efforts, we are faced with the struggle of loyalties.  The more contextual or insider this movement is, the more this is an issue. People want to become believers; they like Jesus, they have received blessings like healing or deliverance, and they are attracted to His love and goodness.  But they have a difficult time when it comes to following him in baptism, and struggle with the cost of that, the possible rejection from family, loss of inheritance, or other relationships that might be threatened by this. Sometimes we see that they want to continue to worship idols at festivals so they can stay a part of their family and community.

What do we as church planters and disciple makers do in these situations?  How much do we challenge them in these areas?  How much do we tolerate within the DNA of a fellowship or movement a mindset that says (perhaps indirectly) that it is okay to pick and choose which of Jesus' commands we will obey, rather than making a decision to follow and obey him in everything and always? 

We certainly don't want to cause persecution or cause people to be kicked out of their communities! In fact, we believe that if they can stay connected to their community and involved in it, the chance of the gospel spreading is much greater than if we extract or take them out of their community.  In our zeal to keep people in their own culture and community, however, we CAN NOT water down the critical decision we are calling people to make of fully laying down their lives and submitting to Jesus as Lord and King, of choosing to not just believe, but follow Him in everything, no matter what the cost.  If we allow a DNA of limited obedience to His Word to develop, if we allow a DNA of people becoming followers of Jesus but not having to count the cost and pick up the cross of obedience to His Ways and His Commands, we will not see movements that multiply. 

Lets not be afraid to challenge people with the truth.  Jesus wasn't.  He fed the multitudes and healed the sick, and many followed him.  He also spoke clearly about the reality of what it meant to be His disciple. He was not hesitant to do this.

If we are having a majority of the "believers" in our "movement" living in fear of community and choosing not to obey Jesus by not taking baptism, or not stopping idol worship, or not being willing to forgive their brother who has sinned against them, we need to examine the DNA we are developing.  We need to move back to a DNA that emphasizes Lordship, Obedience and Counting the Cost of what it means to become His disciple.  That may mean that some of our house churches dissolve, or that some people "fall away" who we had hoped would choose Jesus.  But if we never lay before them the challenge and truth of what it means to be His disciple, we are not actually doing them or ourselves any favors.  The Kingdom can not come  in that community and in their lives unless He is reigning in their lives as King.

In Luke 10, Jesus told his disciples when they went to the villages that if people didn't receive them and their message they should "shake the dust off their feet" and move on.  He didn't tell them to keep investing in people who refused to receive them, hoping that slowly they would change their minds.  This is hard because we love these people and so much want them to be saved!  Of course we do!  How much more does Jesus, their Creator!  Still, he instructed His disciples to do this. 

Jesus didn't make it easy to become His disciple.  He told them to count the cost.  We too must help people to count the cost and make a decision.  If they choose to whole-heartedly follow Christ, you may have found a person to disciple who will go on to make more radical Jesus followers, passing on a DNA of radical commitment within the movement.  If they decide not to commit to Christ fully, move on.  Being faced with the truth and depth of commitment needed is probably necessary. It may help them to move from being a "foolish" to a "wise" man who builds on the rock and who's faith will survive the storms and tests.  Don't feel bad or be afraid to move on.  Millions wait to hear His message.  God is preparing men and women of peace and radical disciples in that people group.  You will never find them if you "stay in the house" of those who aren't truly ready to commit to Christ too long.

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