Jesus commanded us to make disciples of all nations.
“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”” Matthew 28:16-20
Make disciples of all nations.
Good Christians that we are, we all obey. So we fund missionaries. Generally the nations with big smiles of gratitude – they are much more photo-friendly for the “what are we getting for our money” back home.
Make disciples of all nations.
Over the centuries and millennia there have been different styles of making disciples. Most of them “brutal” both physically and spiritually. And making disciples became ”saving people”. And that gave the church a bad name, and religion, and God.
So what might the differences be – and why have we chosen “saving” rather than “disciples”?
One: Saving is an act in the moment. Making disciples is relationship over time. Jesus knew the difference. Which is why He did not say “go and save all nations.” Therefore, I am going off the concept of saving people as the “end result”. And I am going off “saving people” even as part of the process. In fact, I think I am going off “saving” anyone at all. I do not save. And I am beginning to think that none of us “save” because –
Two: “No one comes to the Father but through me” Jesus said. Seems pretty clear. Jesus does that – that is “saving”. Jesus does that – not me. So just what is my “job” in following that commandment of “making disciples of all nations”? Well what about someone coming to love Jesus. Can I do that by how I live, love and breathe all day every day? Yes, I can do that. And if someone “finds Jesus” through me … then the heavy lifting is between them and God Soft Hands Jesus when it comes to the “saving” because –
Three: There is another commandment we seem to forget in the “action packed arena” of saving people:
“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”” Matthew 22:37-39
So which commandment are we fulfilling when we “save people”? And are we fulfilling one and not the other? Because when we pick and choose the commands we fulfil – is that not when we “save people” rather than “make disciples of all nations”?
Which brings me to another thought: whether the act of “saving someone” requires validation from/for the saviour/savee – validation that the savee remains “saved” – and that the saviour did indeed “save”. Which makes me ponder … Is that is why “going to church every week” has become another “law”? Because without that weekly validation – if the “savees” did not show – then all this “saving people” would be pointless, wouldn’t it … ?
“I saved that fella down the road this week, praise the Lord!”
Where is he?
“Don’t know – can’t see him.”
So is he saved?
“He must be – he said he was – we prayed together.”
Well he should be here then!
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Someone gave me one simple question for all who believe we should go to church each week: “Why are you here today?”
Because I love church in all its forms and places and times and styles. But I refuse the “man-made law” as to where “church is” – or is not, of “what church is” – or is not, and “this is how we do church”. Because I must either conform or leave. And just what is it I am leaving?
For me that is the crux of all of this “pondering”.
That all too often “leaving a local church” (or staying) is confused with staying/leaving “Church as the body of Christ”.
And so often leaving “that local church” is simply trying to reconnect with the “Body of Christ” – the same God who saved “them”. And, whilst I understand that leaving a local church can be leaving the Body of Christ and even God Himself, so often that is not the case.
Yet all too often that is the judgement a “local church” will make of the leaver – and therein validating “fault” as being with the leaver, not with the “judgers” …
And that makes me sad (and just a little mad).
Am I missing something – or does that ignore the very “commandments of relationship” we all listen to and nod to and say “Amen” to (for another week)?
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Oddly (at least to me) – this whole post bubbled up from another bunch of verses. Verses without commands, or orders, or the “Great Commission” – it was just a conversation between Jesus and His own disciples – it was just a conversation between GSHJ and me:
“He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.” From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” John 6:65-66
And the reason for them voting with their feet?
“On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”” verse 60
Jesus was already “making disciples” long before He commanded us to make disciples. And – even as he was making disciples – He left them with their own choices. Of what they believed, how they lived – whether or not they even followed Him at all.
Which prompted the rest …
That “saving” people flips all of this “God stuff” on its head. That it puts “us” where God should be … and that it puts “savees” where WE think THEY should be: in church on Sunday validating saviours and savees in gratitude for the “saving process”. Because just who is the “saviour” in all this validation?
All of which brought me to the question as you “prepare for church” (whatever that really means) …
“Why will you be “here” today?”