Recently, a close friend and spiritual partner of mine revealed something to me that really took me by surprise. Jay had participated in numerous discipleship training programs that I facilitated and eventually became the lead facilitator for those programs.
But here’s what he said, “Rob, I learned way more about discipleship during our hikes together than I ever learned in the classroom.” Wow! I was stunned at first. But the more I’ve thought about it, the more Jay’s statement makes sense.
After all, that’s basically how Jesus discipled His 12 disciples: He spent copious amounts of time with them hiking (walking) from one village to the next. (Nazareth is about 85 miles from Jerusalem!) Jesus climbed mountains with His men; they spent many hours in a boat together on numerous occasions. He took them to weddings, funerals, synagogues, the temple, all over Israel. He even went fishing with them.
Jesus didn’t have a classroom. Instead, He intentionally discipled His men as He and they were going about life.
That reminds me of Jesus’ command in Matthew 28:19 to make disciples. Now, grammar may or may not be your strong suit, but please stick with me as I share something with you.
Jesus’ command in Matthew 28:19 consists of four verbs. Only one of those four verbs is an active verb and the other three are all participles (that is, they end in “ing” in English). The active verb in that verse is “make disciples.” The participles are: “going,” “baptizing,” and “teaching.”
Unfortunately, most of our English Bible translations make the participle “going” look like an active verb as in “Go!” But the meaning of the participle “going” is more like, “As you are going, make disciples.” Or, “As you are going through life, make disciples.”
I personally find this realization very liberating. Instead of the command sounding like a call to be a missionary, it frees us up to see making disciples as a way of life for every follower of Jesus. No wonder Jay learned more about discipleship while hiking with me than in the classroom. One approach uses the context of real life, the other is artificial. (Not that there’s anything wrong with a discipleship class!)
What we’re talking about here is super important. If we’re to make disciples simply as we are going through life together, this brings disciple-making down to the realm of everyday life where I think Jesus intended it to occur—just like He modeled.
This realization also reminds us how important it is to live our lives in an exemplary way for others. After all, discipleship is simply representing Christ for others through our life and words.
But the act of making disciples is active—it’s deliberate. Many who call themselves Christians are going through life but have never made disciples. When Jesus was hiking, or fishing, or boating with His disciples, He was teaching them and demonstrating for them how to live like Him.
When I hike with Jay or anyone else, I try to deliberately model the skills of following Jesus. We pray together, we discuss the Word, we confess our sins to each other and seek to root sin out of our lives. None of these skills require a lot of smarts. Any follower of Christ can learn to make them an integral part of their lives.
How about you? As you are going through life, are you making disciples? If not, please allow me to help you along the way. Keep reading the blogs, articles and books on my site and listen to my podcasts. I also invite you to contact me if you have a specific question.
©2018 Rob Fischer