Kevin Reilly – Gdansk, Poland
At the beginning of Mathew’s gospel, he records Jesus’ promise to those who go after him: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Mk 4:19).
The promise is simple and conditional – to follow Christ is to find yourself being fashioned into something that you were not before: into a disciple-making disciple – a learner (disciple means learner) who is able to help others know, and follow Jesus. The verse alludes to a simple transaction – my responsibility to stay close and to follow is matched by his responsibility and promise to transform me and to make me into a person, able to reach others with the gospel.
At the end of his book, Mathew remembers and records Jesus’ more emphatic – Therefore go and make disciples of all nations (Mt 28:19) and between chapter 4 and chapter 28, he records three years of Jesus-journey, of following him and learning.
Come follow me – I will make you – becomes – now go and make disciples.
Disciple-making is the work that Jesus has given us. He builds his church but we are to make disciples. It’s an important distinction. I make disciples – He builds the church. Sometimes we get muddled on this and imagine that church-building should be our focus and then we wonder where all the Jesus-learners have gone! We are commanded to both be and make disciples – Jesus’ responsibility is to build and lead His church.
“…there was more disciple-making in those 8 hours than I usually get in a month of Sundays.”
A few weeks ago I enjoyed my best Sunday. There was no meeting – we met on the Saturday that week – and so Sunday was meeting-free and yet there was more disciple-making in those 8 hours than I usually get in a month of Sundays.
I met with my friend Pawel at 08.00. He is a believer in our small church community and he is a Christian brother and friend to me.
We meet. We run in the forest. We talk. We share together and we pray together and then we swim in a lake and then we head off home. We have been doing things like this for a number of years now. We know each other’s weaknesses, sins and heart-longings and so we pray regularly for each other. We learn together too – reading the Bible and reading books that one has recommended to the other and talking about how our thinking is being shaped through what we are learning – we are both, equally, learners…both disciples of Jesus. Our meeting is mutual. We influence one-another and we’re both going after Jesus together. Honestly my friendship with Pawel remains one of the great blessings in my life. Together, we follow and together we are being made into disciple-making learners of Jesus. And so we just keep on doing this.
At 16.30 later that day, I met with Piotr. He is also a trusted and very good friend to me and he is searching for Jesus.
We talk together and we share heart – Piotr is one of the most honest men I know. We learn together using Christian video material that we pre-watch. We drink coffee. We walk around our local river. We open our hearts. We pray. God speaks to us, with a picture or some other encouragement. God breaks in miraculously in my friend’s business. And we just keep doing this…both learning, both growing.
That Sunday, my morning and afternoon pretty much mirrored each other: Friends on a journey – learning together, speaking openly and honestly, praying and blessing each other. The three of us, searching after Jesus and as we do so, being made into something more.
I’m sure that there is a place in the Christian world for courses and such and of course we should continue to meet as a community; but even though Jesus was able to draw crowds, teach in the synagogue and wow the multitudes, he still gathered a handful of followers to himself and invested in them – on a journey, in life and over time.
PS. Pawel and Piotr have given permission for me to share this – thanks guys!