Thursday is for Discipleship
How quickly did Jesus expect those who believed in him or those whom he touched to begin to tell others about him to others?
One of my former students (Matt) put it this way: “’Follow me’ – that’s discipleship. ‘and I will make you fishers of men’ – that’s the direction Jesus takes all true disciples.” The question is how quickly is this direction actualized? or maybe a better question is “how quickly SHOULD that direction be actualized.”
I think our experience in the American church leads us down the path of thinking that there is a delay between conversion and fishing. There is a tendency for us to think that witnessing for Christ to others is some how a mature disciple activity, something that doesn’t happen right a way.
But … A close reading of the gospels indicates that the disciples are being sent out to do what Jesus did, very early in their time with him. A close reading of the book of Acts and the first and second missionary journey’s of Paul reveals that Timothy was gossiping the gospel all over a 50 mile area within months of his conversion.
And just to emphasize the point… Woman at the well, instantly. Demoniac, instantly. Roman centurian, instantly.
I’m not denying a process in becoming a fisher of men, I’m just saying that mature discipleship always yields a gospel telling man or woman. Compelled by the beauty of the gospel, the needs of others and most of all, the command of Christ, to tell others, rescued people tell others about their rescue. It doesn’t take as long as some people say. And when the process is drawn out too long it actually hinders spiritual growth.
The woman at the well, the centurian, and the demoniac knew very little, but what they knew was their story and their encounter with Jesus and they were all released to go and tell that to anyone that would listen.
Length and maturity and depth of growth in the grace and knowledge of God should deepen our zeal to proclaim, but it does not follow that those who know little cannot tell what they do know effectively. Let’s expect more from young converts and while we are at it, let’s expect a lot more from those who are “more mature” as well.