Sunday morning our church had baptism. In two services, there were twelve people who said yes to Jesus and, in front of hundreds of others, took part in Christian baptism. It is a public testimony of an individual’s desire to follow Jesus.
Before the baptisms, the individuals shared a brief testimony of their personal commitment to Jesus and why baptism was important now. My heart overflowed with joy as I listened to the simple and yet profound ways God reached out and touched the lives of these people. No two were exactly alike and none of these people were perfect. They just knew they experienced the power of God in their lives and wanted to make a change.
In recent months, I have been challenged to take seriously Jesus’ final words to the disciples in the gospel of Matthew.
18Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”Matthew 28:18-20
In this pericope, there is an imperative, something Jesus emphasizes. Often times we emphasize the word “go” and compel one another to leave home and go faraway to be a missionary. In reality, the imperative – the thing we must do – is make disciples, teach others how to follow Jesus. It could actually read, “and while you are on your way, make disciples. Jesus emphasized his desire for us to make disciples right where we are in our current situation.
As often happens when one develops a keen love for something, like following Jesus, the people she surrounds herself with tend to love the same thing. Before long, she finds she doesn’t have many people, if any, in her circles who don’t love Jesus. If that is true, it’s pretty hard to follow Jesus’ command to make disciples.
I freely admit this has been a challenge for me. I like my friends and my cozy circles. I like doing what I do. But if everyone I rub shoulders with already loves Jesus, how am I fulfilling his command to make disciples? What do I do?
The first step in making disciples for me has been to pray for an outpouring of God’s love for people who don’t yet know him. People are not projects or notches in a belt or ribbons on the wall. My deepest desire is to be filled with deep love for anyone who doesn’t know the joy and peace of walking with Jesus. From that place of deep love, I want to do the next right thing. I’m still working on that.
What about you? Is your life filled with people who look, think and act just like you? What would happen if you opened the door to the possibility of being an agent of change in someone’s life? Is it impossibly scary? I know, it is for me too! But we can do it together!