1 John 2:3, Deuteronomy 6:5, Luke 10:27, Ephesians 6:1, Matthew 28:19-20
We are called to disciple with diligence and perseverance, trusting not in our own strength, but relying fully on the wisdom, guidance, and goodness of God.
Following Jesus is not passive. Being a follower of Jesus is an active lifestyle that all believers must obediently commit their lives to. First John 2:3 says, “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.” We are called into action, and that action is to keep His commandments.
What are some of the commandments that we are given? First and foremost, we are called to love The Lord (Deuteronomy 6:5). Then, we are called to love our neighbors (Luke 10:27). Some others include obeying your parents (Ephesians 6:1), and also, we are called to go out to make disciples.
In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus directs His disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” This is how the Holy Spirit chose to end the book of Matthew. Matthew goes out on a great challenge, a Great Commission. Note, we are commanded to go out and make disciples, baptizing them, and teaching them God’s commandments. This is discipleship.
Paul gives us a good example of discipleship in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. “According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Discipleship is a beautiful cycle of continuous building upon the foundation of Jesus Christ. We may be called to lay the initial foundation of truth in someone’s life, or we may be called to disciple in such a way that we build upon an already existent foundation.
Along with our Great Commission, we also have great assurance. In the last portion of the Great Commission, Jesus said, “I am with you always.” Jesus calls us to the great task of discipleship, but He does not send us alone or in our own strength. Discipleship is not a daunting task. It is not burdensome. First John 5:3 reassures us, “In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.” Therefore, God calls us into action, to obey him. Then, He equips us. Obedience to God is not a burden but a blessing as we get to experience God’s strength in our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:10).
Thinking of discipleship may generate many feelings inside of you. Reflecting on all of the women who have discipled me, I initially get excited thinking about how I am called to share the best news ever with the women around me. However, at times, discipleship can feel overwhelming to me. Feelings that I continuously must give to the Lord include feelings of inadequacy (Hebrews 13:21), weariness (Matthew 11:28-30), and fear of rejection (2 Corinthians 10:18). We are called to discipleship, but it is not always going to be easy.
So how do we faithfully and diligently go out and disciple others? How do we persevere in the face of rejection and in times of discouragement?
First, we must not rely on our own strength. Haggai had a huge task set before him, to rebuild the temple. In the midst of his seemingly overwhelming task, the Word of the Lord came to Haggai to encourage him. Haggai 2:4-5 says, “Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not.” When we see the huge task of discipleship ahead of us we must not be strong in our own strength, but we must be strong in God. The Word of God commands us to “work” and assures us that He is with us, in our very midst, in the ins and outs of our daily routine.
Then, have confidence in the mission God has called you to. Nehemiah was called by God to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. He had great adversity that challenged him as he faithfully completed the work God called him to. In the midst of adversity, Nehemiah remembered his goal, and he remember God who equipped him for the work set before him. In Nehemiah 6:3 Nehemiah sent messengers to tell his adversaries, “Say to them, ‘I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” Nehemiah, through God’s wisdom and insight, discerned the attempts of his adversaries to derail his works. But, he remembered the goal and task to which he was called, and he refused to stop working until it was done. We must take this stance while making disciples. Especially in the face of adversity and discouragement, we must proclaim, “I am doing a great work, and I will not stop until it is done!”
Finally, we must believe that even the most seemingly trivial works for the Kingdom are not done in vain. In 1 Corinthians 15:58 we read, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” We can be confidently steadfast. We can be confidently immoveable. We can be confident in the abounding work of God. And even when we feel shaken, tired, and like our work is not amounting to what our expectations are, we are assured that all of our works are used by God to grow His Kingdom. Proverbs 3:5 tells us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Our limited understanding of the smallest of details of life are unable to be compared to His omnipotent and intricate plan that He has designed.
Therefore, go! Make disciples! And do so with perseverance. In Hebrews we are encouraged to, “Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the Founder and Perfecter of our faith” (12:1-2). Lay aside your fears in discipleship! Lay aside your disappointments! Lay aside your unmet expectations! And when you do face adversity and disappointments, recall James 1:2-4, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
God has called us to the work of making disciples. We can do that work because God is in our midst. We can complete our work without “coming down off of our wall” because we are assured that God equips us to complete the tasks He has called us to. We can persevere in discipleship, because He goes with us to the ends of the world.