The Motivation of Disciple-Making
So there it was. "Make disciples." Right. I knew that. On it...yeah, I had no clue what that meant. I thought that I had been making disciples. I thought that packed pews and full altar calls was successful disciple-making. Why would God not be pleased with that?
As I began to investigate Jesus, and I'll spare you the year-long version of discoveries, I kept comparing what I knew, how I had been shown, to what I found Jesus doing and saying. The comparisons began to look more like contradictions. As I poured through the rest of the New Testament, I found a gaping hole in all my theories about what successful Christianity was supposed to look like. For one, there were no awards given in Acts for the highest number of baptisms in a year. In fact, the numbers I had felt that articulated success and failure, were not a focal point at all. The often used 3,000 souls believing at Pentecost, now read much more as a fingerprint of God's work, and not at all as something prescribed to aspire to. It was the Lord who drew men to Himself that day, through the outpouring of His Spirit, on His timetable, in His own way, and through His own chosen means- there is very little to do with the Acts of the Apostles in the birth of the church. They were obedient to be where Jesus told them to be, to wait until He was ready to move, and then to open their mouths for His Spirit to speak whatever He willed.
The realization that Peter didn't spend those days from the resurrection to Pentecost preparing a sermon, researching the Old Testament for good quotes to support his ideas, was revelatory. I had taken that truth for granted. I had not asked the right questions. It was a case of God truly speaking through a man, by the power of the Holy Spirit. It was God's message delivered in God's way, in God's time, and through God's man.
What WERE the disciples of Jesus doing during that time period of waiting until Pentecost- although they may not have known for what they were waiting but that Jesus had promised that the Holy Spirit would come? They were praying. Praying is preparing.
The Kingdom of God would call us into Living Backwards by letting go of what we have turned the idea of "make disciples" into. The call to make disciples begins as the church did: obedience stemming from a loving and believing relationship with Jesus. The numbers in Scripture are there to give evidence to the mighty outpouring of God's Spirit, and man has sought to recreate the birth of the Church since- we want the numbers. God wants the obedience. Our challenge is to ask whether or not we believe that should a person spend their whole life planting seed, watering, fertilizing, tilling, breaking up fallow ground- yet never firsthand seeing a person become a believer and follower of Jesus, but continued to actively engage himself in the obedient action of making disciples, is that man a failure or success to us? Are we seeing fruit production the way God does?
I now know that such a man will indeed hear, "Well done." His motive was simply that Jesus asked him to, and when you love Jesus, you want to do the things that He has asked. As we begin to evaluate our motives for doing "Christian" things, in light of what the Scriptures really tell us about those who have gone before us, we will likely find ourselves beginning to do what others won't, and to not need what others require to tabulate success.
Are you actively involved in making disciples? What is your real motivation? I'd love to hear your thoughts....