We all know the final commandment that Jesus gave to His disciples. When we get to the implementation of this, there are various models people follow. Some might not even think that it is relevant anymore in our day and age. One such group believes that the LORD has His elected ones, and thus it does not even help to send someone as a missionary as you will be wasting your breath in any case. This group I will put into the grouping of those with very little faith, or no faith at all. They would also normally only have a couple of missionaries working in their own sphere ensuring that nobody goes astray.
With them out of the way, what are the main groupings? One group of people will believe that we have to send someone somewhere, where another group will believe that you should just work with the people around you. I have read so many books and articles dissecting the Word on this subject, only to find that not a lot actually gets done. We have a commission to fulfil, and it does not help to analyse it to find out where and how it should be done. No, we just have to do it. Everyone.
How would I define the role of a disciple?
I suggest we start and analyse what the first disciples did, and see how we can apply that today. They did what He asked them to do, lived with Him, and were taught by Him. They left everything behind and followed Him. Jesus told the disciples that if their parents or wives were more important than Jesus, they were not worthy of Him. They had to be like Him, as a disciple does and act like his teacher.
Jesus told Peter that He was going to make him a fisher of men. Quite an interesting example. What does it mean if we take that, and apply it to our question? When we want to become fishers of men, we have to exhibit a lifestyle that is desirable by people, so that our lifestyle can be used as bait. So the first point I want to make is that your lifestyle must exhibit the Word and life of Christ.
What is our modus operandi?
I want to stick to the fisherman example. When we fish, we do not catch all the fish in the river or sea, even when we use a net, as some fish will still be able to escape. Only those that eat of our bait, or land in our net, are caught. I don’t know if you have ever caught a fish with a fishing rod, but it is still one of the most exciting things to me when you know that something has taken your bait. Now I have to concentrate and reel him in slowly, or I will lose him. Then when I eventually get to where I can see the fish, it is so exciting to see him struggle. When I eventually land the fish, he dies, and can then be used by me either as bait, or as food.
That is the task Jesus gave us. We must become his bait to the world. We have to exhibit His Word and His lifestyle. If I don’t, then I am in no position to make others His disciples. No, I can only make people a disciple of what I am a disciple of. The fish, the unbeliever, must be able to see it, smell it and taste it before deciding. I can sit around and tell the fish everything about my bait, giving all the plusses and minuses, informing him that it has all the nutrients he requires and that he will never be hungry for anything anymore after taking my bait. This will not help though. The fish must see it in action and then desire to have it. He must eat it. I cannot eat it on his behalf, meaning I cannot accept the LORD on his behalf. No the person must see my life and it must be desirable to him, before he will take it. He will then struggle, as he is not going to leave his life behind. I will have to use all my know-how and strength to not let the fish go. I will have to tell him that it is better for him to be caught than to be left in sin. He might not like it if you tell him this. Others might even struggle so hard that you will lose them. They might end up taking someone else’s bait or even Satan’s bait. Remember Paul said in Galatians 6 verse 5 that everyone will bear his own burden. When I eventually land him and get him to the LORD, he is going to die, as we are not building an aquarium, but we are fishing for them to become disciples, or bait.
How is this done in real life?
Exhibiting Jesus in my life does this. If I am still full of myself, I will make people like me. I will tell them of my theology and life and habits. Paul describes this for us in Galatians 6 verses 12 to 13: “As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. 13 For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.” I have heard so many times that people brag about how many people the led to the LORD. Most of these used some or other tract to explain why the person had to accept Jesus as saviour, and then prayed a prayer on behalf of the other person. I get totally annoyed when I hear this, as statistics show that one 7% of these people actually made a commitment to follow the LORD. My question to them normally is: If you had so many opportunities to share the full Gospel, why didn’t you do it?
Let us use an example. If I go to parts in Africa that have never heard the gospel or anything from the Bible, and I tell a person there that if he does not accept Jesus as his saviour, he is going to end up hell, what do you think his reaction is going to be? He will probably say something like: “Huh? What are you talking about”? However, when he sees me healing the sick and speak life into their lives, he will also want that which I have. It does not help having all the tools in the world to share the gospel. No I have to walk that road myself, and exhibit Jesus in my everyday life. Then people would be interested in hearing about Jesus, and changing their lives.
That is how to make people disciples of Jesus Christ.