I think we get confused about what discipleship really is and because of it, we tend to leave it in the dusty corner of our spiritual lives. As a kid, I thought only the 12 compadres of Jesus could be disciples. In time, I found that anyone could be a disciple or make disciples, but I guess I’m confused because, where are the disciples today?
There is an association with discipleship in the church as being the job to convert non-believers. And since it tends to be associated with a job, lots of people don’t like doing it.
But what if discipleship didn’t have to be a job or command, didn’t have to be a dusty, unwanted tool in the corner?
What if discipleship is simply intentional relationship?
Jesus gives lots of job descriptions of being a disciple, but one of my favorite comes from John 13: “Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Discipleship is that easy. Love one another.
The area where making disciples can go wrong is when there is a strict agenda attached to it. Unfortunately, I see a lot of this today. Disciple makers lasso targeted homosexuals and try to force them to be straight. They condemn souls who have struggles with sex and alcohol. They wipe out the wanderlust in dreamers’ eyes. They live by their own agenda of what they think their discipleship should be and because of it, they forget to love.
I’m for tough love, corrective love, perspective-giving love—but love has to be the theme, not control.
The biggest gap we’re missing in the church and in our spiritual lives is discipleship—the ability to form a relationship for the intention of loving on someone through their good and bad times in order to show them how Christ works in your own life.
That’s what Jesus did. He gathered fishermen and tax collectors and all the untouchables and he showed them the kingdom of God by loving on them with no agenda–and they bought in.
Disciples know God and make him known through love.
I recently returned from a trip to Israel with 25 other people and the intention of the trip was not just to see how alive God is in the stories of the land, but more so, it was about making disciples. This happened through the intentional pairs of mentors and mentees who would spend time dissecting the content from the day while loving on each other and seeking Jesus together.
The neat part was that the discipleship didn’t stay in pairs, it spread like wildfire throughout the group. By the second week everyone was pouring into everyone and the kindling of it all was love.
The world needs disciple makers right now because it’s most often met with agenda makers. It’s happening in Palestine and Israel just as much as it is happening between cops, blacks, and whites in America. Everyone wants change to go their way, too many are forgetting to love.
The art of true discipleship is dusty and unused because it’s turned into something different, something controlling. At its roots though, it’s all about love.
We need more people who want to start intentional relationships to freely give Jesus’ love. You don’t have to be good at it, you don’t have to be 40-60 years old to qualify for it, you just have to want to love on someone because they need lovin’.
Disciple makers guide and care, they show up when times are tough and hang-out when they’re easy, they invest without the desire of a return.
Through the process, the people you’re loving on will start to ask questions about your love and where it comes from. That’s what John 13 is talking about, that’s how disciples stir hearts, that “they’ll know we are [disciples] by our love, by our love…”