Jesus said in Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations”. Making disciples should be the number one priority of the body of Christ. Jesus also said in Luke 14:33, “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” Many leaders have disobeyed the command of Jesus Christ and have resorted to preaching a watered down, candy coated message in order to gain a larger congregation. In the book “Reveal: Where Are You?” by Greg Hawkins and Cally Parkinson published by the Willow Creek Association in 2007, Bill Hybels readily admits that “if you simply want a crowed, the ‘seeker sensitive’ model produces results. If you want solid, sincere, mature followers of Christ, it’s a bust”. However, any method or program we use that is not aimed at producing authentic disciples is in direct contradiction to our Lord Jesus Christ’s commands, and does a disservice to the Lord and to His people. Jesus was more interested in making quality disciples than the quantity in attendance. Jesus wanted believers who were truly sold out, who were whole heartedly committed to Him, and who were loyal and faithful to Him alone. He wanted it then and still wants it today!
The present state and condition of the Church, the body of Christ, is in decline and according to statistics it will continue to do so. There are over 133,000 denominations in the world and many of them, along with many independent churches, make the Word of God of no effect by their traditions, just as the scribes and the Pharisees as stated by Jesus in Matthew 15:6b. They have opted for a seeker sensitive, candy coated, easy grace Christianity, giving people an institutionalized program based, “status quo” Christianity that fails to make disciples who truly know Jesus Christ intimately and have learned to be led by the Holy Spirit (Rom.8:14; Phil.3:8-11). This “status quo” Christianity allows a believer to continue to live a life with no change from the world; and it does not call or steer them into the intimate personal relationship with Jesus Christ, which is needed to become an authentic disciple of Christ. It teaches them why they should believe and may strengthen their “belief”, but it does not grow them in the Christian walk, surrendered and “sold out” to Christ. Those who promote this type of “status quo” Christianity are being wilfully disobedient to the Lord and are doing a huge disservice to believers who listen.
Proof of the decline of the body of Christ is confirmed in a recent report by Barna Research Group as well as other reports by other organizations. The Barna Group report reveals that only 9% of Christian teenagers believe in moral absolutes (“Truth” with a capital “T”). The Assembly of God denomination estimates somewhere between 65% and 70% of their teenagers will depart from the faith by the time they leave high school. Even worse, the Southern Baptist Council on Family estimates 88% will depart from the faith by the time they leave high school. Jeremiah films reports that 80% of believers send their kids to public schools and that 75% of teenage Christian believers will depart from the faith their first year in college. We are losing our children, the next generation, because we are not teaching them how to be disciples.
True discipleship is about loving God and our neighbour or others as we learn to walk in obedience to the Lord. Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-40, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets.” Jesus also said in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Discipleship is not about the number in attendance during “services,” it is about teaching believers to live a surrendered life by developing an intimate relationship with the Lord that results in obedience to Him. 1 John 5:2-3 says, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” It is about dying to our self interests and our self-centred ways and choosing to live our life out of love and obedience to Him. Discipleship is all about learning to love God and others through our obedience to Him and His Word. As we do we begin to reflect His character in our lives as we are being transformed and conformed into His image.
Jesus said in the book of John 14:21, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” Jesus tells us that those who truly love the Lord are those who keep His commandments and that those who keep His commandments will be loved by the Father. Jesus said that He would also love the one who keeps his commandments and will manifest Himself to him, but the promise is to those who obey Him by keeping His commandments. Authentic disciples who have forsaken all to follow Jesus Christ to love and obey Him will experience the abundant life full of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (John 10:10; Romans 14:17).
Ronald Reagan once said, “Status quo, you know, that is Latin for the mess we’re in.” Should we be leaving believers in their mess, or teaching them to live a life of surrender in obedience to the Lordship of Jesus Christ? Isn’t it time the Church, the body of Christ, got back to making disciples!
Will you join the revolution of making disciples?