For the few weeks before Easter we have been grappling with the idea of what a church/Christians is really called to do and be. Most of what we do is deeply influenced by our church cultural and inherited practices. The Bible seems to use, as the primary measure of our legacy as Christians, the number of people we have discipled to a fullness in Christ, the number of people we have discipled to become disciple-makers? Read Matthew 28:19-20
So far we have used the three two-letter words: BE-DO-GO. They point us to the three things God has given us in this life: an identity, a purpose and a place to do it. Each word answers a question: Who am I created to BE? What am I created to DO? Where am I created to GO?
The Biblical basis for this is Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus (BE) to do good works (DO), which God prepared in advance for us to do (GO)”
In a general sense for all Christians, we are disciples who make disciples wherever we are. We have already looked specifically at BE and DO and now we are going to look at GO.
1. In the position already
I want us all to grapple with the question: “where does God want me to make disciples?” But this is not a recruitment drive for overseas missionaries. And 99.9% of the time the answer is: we are called to be disciples who make disciples where we already are. Paul was an amazing international missionary. But most of us will be more like Esther than like Paul. Esther realised that she had come to the position of Queen of Persia to play her part in God’s redemptive plan.
If you are waiting for the call, you already got it! Your call is to be faithful where you are. Luke 16:10 says “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” The reality is that to GO somewhere else just puts you in a different place to make disciples who make disciples.
To bring it into the reality of everyone’s work life: statistics say that about 4% of people go to church. So if you are wanting to GO that is a small pool. About 100% of people work or have worked. In other words – you don’t have to wait for them to come to you – you are with them all the time. That is practically what it means to carry (READ Eph 1:23) the fullness of God into all of society.
In fact you could argue that the word GO has been terribly misunderstood – it is not “GO internationally”; it is “wherever you GO, GO with the intention of making disciples who make disciples”.
Who has God already placed in your life that you can start to disciples? First step may just be building relationship. The people who are around you are not there by accident – God has a plan for you and them.
2. It’s all about love
The idea of “GO” has more to do with heart than it has to do with where you are! And that is the emphasis that Jesus makes
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ (Matt 22:37)
Discipling is about loving people enough to help them see their need to love and obey God; so that they see the power of God to set them free, to transform them, to give them a full and satisfying life. It is so important to understand the right motivation for discipleship: usually it is obedience, responsibility, and obligation. When we start to think like that ministry becomes about deadlines, tasks, timing, numbers, and roles. When you “have to…” then you very quickly loose the love element.
The Great Commission is never really going to happen until we are ready to obey what is known as the Great Commandment.
I was reading in Colin Marshall and Tony Payne’s book about a conversation one of them had with a business man:
I started to tell my friends that I sometimes find it difficult to talk easily about Christian things, especially with non-Christians, because I don’t have a natural ‘salesman’ sort of personality—not like they do. But [he]… pulled me up short.
“No, you don’t understand sales”, he said. “It’s not about having a particular personality or having the gift of the gab. I’ve got all these guys working for me who think they’re great salesmen, because they’re fast-talking, ambitious ‘sales’ guys. But they’re actually not the best salesmen. The [lady] who’s bringing in the most business is much more laid back, but she’s genuine. She communicates real concern and sincerity. She gets next to people, understands and listens to them, and then works really hard to help them get what they want. She’s bringing in the business, but if you asked her, she wouldn’t say she was a natural salesperson.”
“It’s really about whether you love the product, and know it well, and whether you actually care for people and want to see them satisfied. If you really believe in it, then you’ll sell it.”
Do you see what he affirmed: the principle is true no matter what the subject! “Real concern”, “sincerity”, “help them”, “understand and listen”, “get next to” – and people are interested and engaged. If only our Christian practice was more like that. When loving God and loving people is your highest priority then we are on the right road towards discipleship. This is a call for us to revisit our own relationship with God – and as we experience and are filled with the love of God towards us in Christ Jesus we are enabled to take that same love to others. We should be known for our love.
1 John 4:19-21 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
Discipling is about allowing the fullness of Christ that is in you can intersect in a meaningful way with other people, so that they are propelled and compelled towards him. It is true of bring people into relationship with Christ AND about growing people deeper in their relationship with God. What we call evangelism can fall broadly within discipleship. If I had the time now, I could ask almost anyone of you here this morning and you would be able to point to one or maybe a couple of people who were influencing you towards Christ before you were a Christian because of the fullness of Christ in them.
What does this mean practically?
3. And the new chaplain is….
It means that you are a missionary all the time, wherever you are, with the people he has already put in your path. You have a unique mission field in your day-to-day life.
Firstly, make a list of the 3-5 people in your life with whom you are in close relationship. These would most likely be your family. Are you bringing the fullness of Christ into your relationship with them? Are you listening, engaging, modelling, communicating, serving, and encouraging them in ways that help them to see the love of God in you?
Secondly, who are the people in the next circle out – friends, work colleagues, acquaintances etc. Imagine you started to think about yourself in these terms: I am the chaplain to [fill in the blank].
What is a chaplain? A chaplain is essentially a spiritual representative attached to a secular institution. Chaplains may or may not be certified, have a theological education, or be ordained or commissioned by a particular denomination, though many are.
I am the chaplain to
- the Virgin Active gym where I go to work out (business cards…)
- my place of work (Clicks, PnP, Groote Schuur Junior School, Red cross Hosp, City of Cape Town…)
- my sports team
- my school/university (Rustenberg, UWC, UCT)
- my retirement complex (Welverdient, Huis Luckhoff)
- my walking group
- Columbus road…
Is that so weird? If we start thinking like this the opportunities start to become more than the time available! But we desperately need to start thinking differently about engaging intentionally in discipleship as a lifestyle not an activity connected to the church.
Career Missionaries spend years learning the language and culture and then strive to embed themselves into a community – but you’ve already done all that hard work!
- Recap: Read Eph 2:10 and revisit the last few sermons in this series about BE-DO-GO
- Consider a missionary who is going to a people group who is foreign to their own culture and language. What training /preparation would they need to undergo?
- How do you think about missions: like Paul or like Esther? Why?
- Why do so many Christians not think of themselves as (already in position) missionaries?
- Read Matt 22:37. What does this verse teach about mission and motivation?
- Reread the illustration Grant shared from Colin Payne. What are the parallels with discipleship and evangelism?
- Why is it difficult to disciples the inner circle (usually family) of your influence?
- What did you fill out on the “business card”?
- How would it change you attitude and actions if you thought of yourself as the “chaplain to…”