A long time ago I had a conversation with a close friend and pastor. We were discussing discipleship. Since then, I have encounter a number of people of who have been frustrated with their discipleship. One in particular, a pastor, has expressed deep frustration that his flock does not desire to follow. Thinking about all these issues and looking back at what Jesus did has really made me question what we call discipleship. Traditionally it seems like we spend much of our time, energy, and resources trying to make disciples out of people who do not really want to be disciples.
Consider these points:
- As far as we know, Jesus never tried to convince the Pharisees that he was their savior. He merely told them the truth and let them decide. When they rejected Jesus, he pointed out their hypocrisy.
- When people came to Jesus asking to follow him, he told them how hard it would be. Some of them left and he didn’t try to get them back. In fact, he expected them to leave and used it as a lesson.
- Nicodemus followed Jesus. He recognized Jesus by the life that Jesus lived, not because Jesus asked Nicodemus to join him or any sort of “cause”.
- Jesus never had any official discipleship programs, he spent a lot of time talking to potential disciples, walking with potential disciples, eating with potential disciples, and teaching potential disciples. Some of them continued to do these things with Jesus.
So what are we producing, if not disciples? Judging from many things I have seen and read over the past couple years, it seems like we a producing angry people. Angry because they feel like they’ve been deceived. Some of them have been promised a changed life, but instead were taught Christian doctrines and precepts. We’ve produced Apathetic people. Apathetic to the gospel, to the Church, and even to Jesus. We’ve produced people with false-security. These people went to all the classes, they attended all the services, and followed all the rules, little do they know that these actions won’t save them. There are probably other types of people that we have produced but I think Jesus had a phrase that best sums up these false-disciples, “White Washed Tombs”. On the outside, they look brilliant, pure, and white… but on the inside, they are filled with death.
Who are our disciples? Our disciples are the people who truly follow us… and hopefully watch us truly follow Jesus. Jesus did not force people to follow him, he did not even try to prevent people from leaving him, his disciples were those who recognized him as savior and could do nothing but follow. Basically, Jesus shared his life with everyone, those who shared it back were his disciples.