I want to preface these thoughts to ensure that I cause no doubt in anyone’s mind regarding their salvation, or whether or not they are “really a Christian”. My thoughts below are merely an attempt to “raise the bar for what it means to be a disciple”. (Thank you Neil Cole) I am not passing judgment on anyone for these thoughts, because they apply to me as well. These are convictions that I have had personally, so if they challenge you, know that they challenged me first; they continue to challenge me daily.
There must be more to following Christ than reading my Bible, praying, and “going to church”…=)
I was thinking this morning about how much emphasis we put on certain things as Christians, but not on others. For the sake of keeping this short I will use the example that has been most evident in my life over the past few months, and what I notice as I speak with other believers…
If Jesus’ last command to His disciples when He left them with His Holy Spirit before going to sit at the right hand of the Father was to “Go and make disciples, Baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”, then why is it that many of us as believers do not do so? Some of us may do 1/2 of this command: “Go make disciples”. However, if part of our disciple making process is not Baptizing those new disciples then are we really making disciples at all? I have to ask myself why it is that MOST people, MYSELF included (until much later in my journey), who claim to be disciples of Jesus Christ, have NEVER Baptized someone? This seems a bit crazy to me when I think about it. Jesus’ last command…how is it that when WE made our decision to follow Christ, and then got Baptized that we did not realize/were not released to GO AND DO LIKEWISE? Why is it that the moment I came up out of the water “in new life” that I did not realize the COMMAND of Jesus to go and do the same? (Many Christians that I have dialogued about this with not only do not realize that they are COMMANDED by Jesus to do this, but often think they are NOT ALLOWED to because they aren’t “ordained ministers”. Ouch.)
Basically, we have the majority of the Body of Christ in America, (again, myself included) who are neglecting to carry out a foundational command of Jesus that He imparts to ALL BELIEVERS. This is the command that released the disciples to launch the spread of the early Church by the empowering of the Holy Spirit. If we are not carrying out this command, each and every one of us, are we drastically SLOWING the rate at which the Gospel can go forth to the nations? (TO OUR NATION?)
PRAISE CHRIST THAT IT IS BEGINNING TO HAPPEN IN MANY PLACES, AND EXISTING CHURCHES…(GOTTA SHARE THE POSITIVE TOO!) In fact, I have been hearing beautiful stories of many communities of faith who have begun releasing lay-people in their congregations to start Baptizing new believers! Praise Christ! Dad’s Baptizing their daughters, etc. Beautiful.
A main point I wanted to bring up was that we spend more time, energy, and efforts on our own individual “walk with God” than we do on pursuing this basic command of Jesus. We put more emphasis on religious tasks, duties, and checklists that we think we must do to be a good Christian than we do on this very basic task of making disciples/Baptizing them. What if we focused as much emphasis on going out to make disciples, and baptize them as we do on reading our Bibles and praying? What if it was just as important a task, and expectation as a believer to Baptize new believers into the kingdom as it is to show up at church each week, or read our Bibles each day?
(Guys, I’m not saying we should not be reading our Bibles, and pursuing our individual intimate relationship with Christ. I’m simply asking why we put more emphasis on those things than we do on the growth and spread of the kingdom through new disciples being Baptized by ALL OF US.)
In case you were wondering how this got conjured up in my soul again: I spent the entire last week teaching a group of students about Simple Church Planting. I taught on Baptism briefly…and here is what happened:
Above is Beth, one of the D.T.S. students who had made a verbal decision to follow Christ some time ago, but never followed the Lord in Baptism. Above are also students who had all made decisions for Christ, and followed Him in Baptism, but up until this point had never Baptized another. On Wednesday they Baptized their first, but NOT their last. One student said afterwards, “Now that I’ve done it before I can, and WILL do it again!”
I am anxiously awaiting your feedback, and hope that we can all move forward with a new fervor to obey the Great Commission…ALL of it.