Thursday is for Discipleship
The surprising thing is that what I am about to write will sound radical. It’s not. It’s biblical. It’s what Jesus taught, which I suppose was radical in its time. But it is not the practice of the modern church, so it is going to sound radical because it goes against all our experience.
Here’s my thesis:
Discipleship is evangelistic before it is formative.
In the typical church, mention the word discipleship and the first thought generated will be along the line of deepening people into greater maturity in Christ. But Jesus starts the process with one of the clearest and simplest verses in all of Scripture.
“Follow me and I will make you to be fishers of men.”
(Mark 1:17; cf Matt. 4:19)
Straightforward and simple. We follow him. He makes us fishers of men. Condition and promise or, if you prefer, action and promise.
Here’s the stunningly simple question: Does Jesus keep his promises?
Obvious response: Absolutely.
So if I follow Jesus he will make me a fisher of men. But the verse indicts me as a non-follower of Christ if I am not fishing for men.
[Further clarification based on feedback: I am not saying “unbeliever” or “not Christian”. That is not my point and not my place to judge. On the other hand, Jesus and Paul both have language that does cause all of us to analyze our own followship to see if we are indeed in the faith, see Matthew 7:21-29 and 2 Cor. 13:5 for just a sampling.]
Therein lies a major problem in our approach to discipleship. We bypass the fishing and move right to the kitchen with fish that others have caught and delivered for processing.
It’s artificial. It is not the way of Jesus. And it doesn’t work.
Jesus didn’t say he would make us cooks. (Nothing against cooks!) He said he would make us fishers of men. To follow him means that we fish for men. A discipleship process that by-passes the start of the process misunderstands the whole process.
Our churches are filled with “fisherman” who never fish. They don’t understand the process. But it is worse than that. Our disobedience and failure to fish for men truncates our growth in Christ.
“What, you mean to tell me that if I am not fishing for men my walk with God will somehow be warped and underdeveloped?”
That’s what Jesus says.
“Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” ( John 14:21 ESV)
Jesus ties further disclosure of himself to obedience to his commands. If you want to grow in Christ, if you want to become a true disciple of Christ, start uniting your “formation” with evangelism. And watch your understanding of the resurrected One grow according to his promise which he always keeps.