Do As I Do - Not Just As I Say...

It's been a while since I've written publically, but this has been on my heart for a while.  Even now, I'm not sure if it's correct theologically but I thought I would write it down anyway.  Maybe someone will read this and either question or clarify for me, what I've been thinking about recently.

I start with this scripture after Jesus has washed the feet of the disciples:

John 13:13-17

13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Verse 15 caught my eye one day because I was pondering an entirely different subject - and as I did, I remembered this verse:  "I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you."

Why is this scripture so important to me?

Because of this verse:

Mathew 28:16-20

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said,“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
First of all - you might think I'm weird, but I like the scripture that says in verse 17 the disciples worshiped - "...but some doubted".  Pretty interesting to think you can still doubt and worship God at the same time.  I'm sure there would be those who would argue that it's not "true worship", but what the heck is?  Let's be honest.  How many people can truly worship God with absolutely NOTHING ELSE trying to crowd into the mind at the same time? Worry, doubt, fear, boredom, feeling aloof, depressed, etc. It's a constant battle to discipline the mind to quiet these and concentrate on the goodness of God.  So I like this verse because it's a HUMAN thing to do -worship and have some conflicting emotion that is opposite of worship.

And the other cool thing is Jesus didn't point it out.  In past scriptures we can read things like:  "Knowing what they were thinking, he [Jesus] said..."  But this time - He didn't point out the doubt or question their hearts or give one last parable.

Instead, He told them something greater - something that would eventually turn doubt into belief; He could already see the Day of Pentecost, where the disciples doubts taken away, as well as all those who heard their testimonies and believed in Jesus Christ - resurrected - Son of God - their Savior.

He tells them something that so many of us can quote with our eyes closed:
"Go and make disciples of all nations..."

I'm going to stop there because this is the true crux of what I'm thinking about right now. As I've reflected on these scriptures and the following thoughts, it took a lot of shame and guilt away.

The scripture says:  "Go and make disciples..."  not "Go and make converts..."

What's the difference?

It's a HUGE difference.

I don't know how you were raised in your upbringing, but I was raised to believe that I needed to tell everyone about Jesus and His saving power. Only, it wasn't in a way that supported long-term relationship building, but more like "Smack a stranger in the head and dog him into becoming a Christian, otherwise he's going to hell and you helped him go there."

I never understood this theology and as time went on I was afraid for those who became "Christians" by such means, because the one who lead the other "to the Lord" goes away proud and a little less guilt ridden because he or she accomplished the "task" that needed to be done (according to their denomination's practices) and the new "convert" has no clue what happened, or how to be discipled . He or she was lead in the "sinners prayer" - then watched the other one walk away.

Creating spiritual orphans was never Jesus idea of following Him.

I didn't get it.  Why "lead someone to Christ", and then walk away?

My denomination heavily touted bringing people to Christ, and then glossed over what to do after that.

"Invite them to church!" they'd say.  Well, that 's a first step, but even then it's not promising.  Nothing like having a total stranger say, "Hey, where do you live? I'll come pick you up!" thank you, stranger. I barely know you, and right now, I barely know Jesus. 

[Think about it. No matter how grateful you might be to the man or woman who stops your child and leads him or her to Christ, would you be cool if this same person asks for an address and a phone number where he or she could be reached?  Sadly enough, there's enough wolves in sheep(s) clothing to look like a saint but act like a devil.  Stranger danger is still stranger danger.]

So what in the world am I suppose to do? I don't want to abandon anyone - I don't want to make them feel uncomfortable by offering to bring them to church - and I'm not sure they'd come any way by themselves...


It wasn't till I read the above verses back to back, did I finally get it.

I started pondering, "What examples did Jesus do that I need to follow in His footsteps with?"

And I came up with the following:

  • First - Jesus never chased anyone
If anyone had the right to say, "Do you know Jesus?" - it would be him.  Even when he called his disciples, he didn't say, "Do you know Me? "  He simply said, "Come follow Me."  

They dropped everything they were doing and followed Him.  That was it.  No prayer - no confession - no conviction - just "Come follow Me."

LATER, He did ask his disciples about whom others said that he was - and whom they said that he was [Matt 16:13-20]  BUT NOT AT FIRST.

You know why?

Cause He needed to make DISCIPLES not CONVERTS.

A disciple is a LONG TERM commitment forged over time and friendship.  It is truly learning a "do what I do and not just what I say" kind of relationship.  And I think most denominations that want the short-version-of-conversion, and think they are practicing the Great Commission.

There are NO shortcuts to making disciples. Making and keeping disciples is HARD.  It means that someone or several have to see you day in and day out.  Messy hair, bad breath, days when you are tempted to blow your gasket, days when you get a deep revelation, days when you feel like a fool.

The original disciples had the best Teacher and Lord, because even though he was tempted - he didn't sin.  (I have no clue about the bad breath or bad hair day.  Maybe he always looked groomed and smelled like daisies.)

But for you and me - discipling others and being under another's discipleship  is hard because it means being: HONEST -COMMITTED - LOYAL - DEDICATED - ACCOUNTABLE - CHOOSING TO LOVE

No wonder so many find it appealing to make a convert and not a disciple.  It's easier to shove Jesus down someone's throat than try to live Him out day after day with eyes that watch all the moves as they slowly come to know Him through you.

And when we look at Jesus example of showing others who He truly was on earth...

...He never chased down the rich young ruler who turned away sadly from Him [Mark 10:17-27] by saying..."Come back here!  Don't you know who I AM?  I'm Christ - the Lord!  You need to know Me!  You'll end up in hell if you don't!  Let's pray together!! Don't run from Me!"

He didn't do that. 

He watched the young man walk away.  He never said a word about who He was.  He wanted to know if the young man recognized Him.

And like I said, He didn't go through the streets or the seaside calling others by saying "I'm the Christ! I'm your Salvation!  Come to Me before you perish!"

He drew others to Himself so differently - ways no one expected.  He made disciples - not converts.  

And not everyone liked his method of discipling - the longer they spent time with him.  Which leads to...

  •  He spent so much time with His disciples that they got to know Him pretty well.
There are verses which say that He had disciples that turned away from Him.  Especially after He told His disciples that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood.

Okay - lets be realistic here.  If you heard someone say that this is the way you get to be a disciple - without knowing the true meaning of this - wouldn't you be grossed out?  I know I would.  I'd be wondering if I was following a Savior or Ozzy Osborne.  Ummm...sounds gross. No thank you.

But here's the thing about being a True Disciple...once you've walked with someone for quite some time, you begin to recognize his/her pattern of relating and being relational. The twelve disciples knew that Jesus talked A LOT in riddles and parables and alliteration - basically to weed out those who wanted a surface relationship. ("Hey, if I hang around Him, I can be popular too!") Sadly enough, I experienced small doses of that when I was the wife of a pastor.  Once that "title" was was "goodbye!"

So the disciples  knew that what Jesus was saying wasn't literal - even if they didn't know in the moment what this truly meant.  They knew it meant more than what He was saying out right.

And here's the weird verse that tells how many disciples turned away and stopped following Him: John 6:66

(Seriously - look it up.  It's really weird.)

A true disciple hangs around - simply because he/she has spent time with the one who is discipling him/her.  The one who disciples hangs around because he or she knows that you just can't leave your friends hanging high and dry on a wing and a prayer. Which leads to...

  • Jesus and His disciples were in it for the long haul
They were committed and dedicated to each other -- the disciples with as much as they could do as humanly possible - even through their fallacies and Jesus with His perfect leadership and example.  

We don't have to wait to be perfect before we disciple another, and the other doesn't have to know all the lingo and scriptures in order to be discipled.  What both have to be hungry for is relationship with God and with a community of believers.  Which leads to...

  • Jesus didn't have one lone disciple.
While Jesus could have done this and not fallen into any of the human traps we can - He lead by example by surrounding Himself with a group of disciples, so that we remember not to have an enmeshed relationship between being the one who disciples and the one who is being discipled. 

If we do not meet as a community- but instead simply rely on ourselves - we can create co-dependency.  This is a relationship where one individual is needy and the other is the savior who supplies the needy.  This gives both a false sense of identity: one finds him/herself unworthy - the other finds him/herself having exaggerated self-importance(which is a mutation of a healthy identity - one who has Value and Worth in Christ).

The Great Commission does say "...make disciples..." not "...make one disciple at a time..."

I know this is a lot to take in.  It is for me too.  But I figured I'd get this stuff out of my head and onto online "paper".

If you read all the way through, I'd love to know your thoughts.  :)


Nick said...

Absolutely BRILLIANT. I truly believe that post was inspired (yes, God-breathed)! That really hit me, because Ivy and I have been without a 'church home' since we left the Methodists back in Grant. We simply cannot find the COMMUNITY within the churches around here.
We, too, struggle with the Great Commission (as should we all- it's NOT easy, nor was it meant to be!), and I think your post will help me make inroads in my own life of 'being Jesus' to someone else.
Thank you so much for putting this down! Would you mind if I shared it? Not copy-pasting, although I wouldn't do that without credit, of course, but via a link to your site? I figured I should ask first, because there's nothing like someone inviting a bunch of strangers into YOUR house!
May God continue to bless you and Brent and the kids in all your endeavors!

Holly said...

Oh my goodness Nick, I hope you see this reply! I didn't know you wrote me, brother. My blog didn't alert me like it normally does.

My goodness, of course you can share this in whatever way you see fit.

Thank you for confirming what's been on my heart. It's been a long, healing process to get to this point in my life to have such an "ah ha!" moment.

And to tell you the truth, I didn't think anyone read my blog anymore. Just got to this "meh" point in my journey to voice these musings" out loud and on line.

Thank you, dear one. You've twice blessed me. Thank you for your blessing too. I pray the same over you and Ivy.

Have a great day. :)

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Feel free to comment, and God bless you! ~ Holly

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