December 13 I Tuesday
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” —Matthew 28:18-20
The Great Commission will be familiar to many of us as the focal point of missions, sermons and conferences. We often emphasize the importance of going out into the world to preach and serve, but to “go” is not actually the primary verb in these verses. We can go somewhere and accomplish little. Baptism is a necessary expression of a person’s response to the Lord Jesus, but our job is not to accumulate as many baptisms or decisions for Christ as possible, and neither is it to teach people to obey. These are all supportive verbs that make the main objective possible, which is “to make” disciples.
If the church does not have disciple making as its central thrust, we are simply rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic. Mission work often prioritizes serving communities, helping the poor, putting up buildings, addressing justice issues, distributing literature and putting on fundraising events, but all these things are temporal. The church has always been a champion of these important acts of service, and we should continue in these good works, but we must not let them eclipse or override our mission to make disciples.
We can fall into this pattern with our ministries back home as well. Sometimes we treat secondary concerns like engaging in worship, receiving teaching or counselling, or meeting together as a Christian community as more important than disciple making. These activities are all very well-meaning and good, but they are not the goal. Is it our prayer that when our children leave Sunday school or youth group, they have become disciples of Jesus? Do our churches organize their budgets and their financial support around making better programs or better disciples? Do we take part in small groups or weekly Bible studies with the intent and expectation that these are times of discipleship?
Though a corporate agenda, it is one to which our personal agendas must also be a contributing factor. One can be a Christian and choose to do their own thing, but a disciple maker lives their life under the authority of Jesus Christ. They sacrifice their time and their interests for what they have been commissioned to do. They see acts of service and participation in ministries not as ends in themselves, but as entry points by which we obey Christ’s command to produce active, obedient, dependent and fruitful disciples.
Disciple making is not just a good idea, a suggestion or a preferred model of ministry; it is a command. Christ is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, and He commands us corporately as a church to make disciples of all nations.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I want to be a disciple maker, with my priorities fixed on helping others discover You. Help me submit to Your authority and begin fulfilling Your disciple-making mission.