I look at Jacob as an example of how to grow as a disciple. God gives me what I need, when I need it. He watches over me. He has patience with me. He prunes and trains me to grow in the right direction. He waters and fertilizes me at the right times and in the proper amounts.
In other words, God disciples the lives of those separated from Him and He reaches them through His grace. Jacob wanting the blessings of God is not enough. He still did not walk with God and he definitely did not follow God. His story is one of how God brings us into alignment with Him.
Jacob’s encounter with angels is quite dramatic. It would seem that wherever there is a work to be done between us and God, there is a ladder, and the angels of God are ascending and descending. Jacob went on his way and the angels of God met him.
I look at prayer as another aspect of growing as a disciple.
And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. – Luke 10:2
Prayer is hard work. It looks like I might not be focused on the right kind of praying. While I am sure it is okay to pray for my family and friends to come and know Christ, Jesus here is really focused on what my prayer should be. He asks me to pray for additional disciples who will accept the call of evangelism. I believe that such an earnest prayer warrior is probably already a disciple and involved in the work of evangelism. They see the harvest is ripe and they know that many will not hear the Gospel because of the shortage of workers.
Picture a farmer with a 1950’s model tractor who is about to plow a 5,000-acre farm. He gets up in the morning and starts the old tractor and begins plowing. He labors till dark and realizes he’s only scratched the surface. It’s only that farmer who truly understands the great need for more help. His discouragement points to the fact more help is needed. His aching muscles and back point to the fact that more help is needed. His tractor that is overheated points there. The guy sitting at home in front of the TV has no real knowledge of the help that’s needed. Only those who are labourers in God’s field can really understand the great need of the disciple.
I think Jesus’ themes in His instructions to the seventy-two that were sent out also encourage a growth in my walk. Jesus urged them to find their joy in their salvation, not in their authority over the demons. Jesus expressed His own deep joy in God’s part in bringing us to Him and His part in the entire plan of salvation. Jesus reminded them that they were experiencing what the people in the Old Testament yearned to see.
I am also challenged to love. In fact, without love, I cannot be a disciple of Jesus.
Luke chapter ten is quite a fascinating job description. If I follow it, I am sure to grow:
- Go to places where He wants me to go. Be the spokesperson for Him. Remember I do not own the Good News. Go together with someone else because the mission is not individual, but rather one of community.
- I partner with God. Pray for others to come and join me. The mission is dangerous and difficult because my life is contrary to the communities I am visiting.
- I have to trust in the hospitality of people and the only gift I have that I can give is peace. It means I have to trust people to welcome me and that those who give to me will feel respected. I also need to stay focused and my time cannot be lost with things that do not belong to the mission.
- Live a life that participates in sharing and not in accumulating.
- Be in communion with everyone around the dining room table. Do not judge anything put in front of me. What I eat or drink does not bring me into the presence of God – my goal is intimacy with God.
- I need to take care of those excluded from community and that would include the refugees, immigrants, and marginalized.
- I am to proclaim the Kingdom of God
When I grow as a disciple, I will know that I have matured when in fact I take on the responsibility of being a disciple-maker. That introduces the theme in Luke chapter ten of Persons of Peace.
I almost can say that a disciple-maker has one job – find the Person of Peace. This person may be from any walk of life, but they will welcome us, listen to our message, help us with our livelihood, and allow us to stay in their home and influence their family and the community for the sake of the Gospel.
As a disciple-maker I do not preach or teach, do not hand out tracts or sell books or give away Bibles. I do not set up mass rallies or healing services. Instead, I find the person in the place where Christ is about to visit. If there is no such person, I move on to another place. How do I find such a person? By praying and through service. Service and if that involves the miraculous, that would be very much in keeping with the Book of Acts. However, it could be as simple as feeding the hungry or helping someone fix a flat tire. Either way, it is freely giving of ourselves. I believe this Person of Peace could be one of the harvesters we are praying for. It would be my job to equip this person to be the disciple-maker in their community. I am to ensure that I am not a financial burden and that I am working and seen to be working by the rest of the community. By working in the community I get the chance to meet people and have a reason to be there with them.
I think Jesus showed us that all the ministries He was involved in met the needs – the real and felt needs of the community. As we do this we are building relationships that allow us to talk about the Kingdom of God/heaven. The person who is responsive to this message becomes the focus of our attention. This focus is on the household, and we do not move around once the Person of Peace is found. We then make disciples of this family, who then take on the responsibility of reaching their community for Christ.
The disciple-maker starts a Discovery Group to help the family discover on their own who God is and how they must relate to Him. The disciple-maker teaches them how to study the Word of God, but does not lead the Bible studies or do any of the preaching and teaching. The focus is on the family learning directly from God through His Word. The disciple-maker guides the direction of the study, but does not conduct the study, except to model the process a few times in the beginning.
Disciples make more disciples. Leaders equip more leaders. Groups establish more groups. Churches plant more churches.
How do I get there – how to I grow to be not only a disciple, but a disciple-maker?
The highest priority in our lives needs to be choosing the good part, as Mary did: to learn of Jesus so that we can become like Him. It’s a love and devotion to Him that makes everything else of secondary importance. It is to seek the riches of wisdom and understanding that are in Him. If we don’t do this, how can we follow Him, how can we be His disciples?
Mary found a way to be a Jesus’ feet when He was teaching. A place of submission, seeking knowledge, worshipping.
Discipleship is about loving God …. It is more than an acknowledgement of God’s existence or a statement of belief regarding God. It is total devotion, head-over-heels-in-love-with adoration. It is the deep desire to know God, to be one with God, and to worship God.