The Heart Behind the Movement

Multiply:  The Heart Behind the Movement

To be a disciple of Jesus is to make disciples of Jesus.

Many don’t actively make disciples because they don’t know what it means to be a disciple.

What exactly did Jesus intend when he said, “Follow me”? Many people in the first century chose to follow him from a distance. Scores of casual listeners were content to associate themselves with Jesus as long as following him did not intrude upon their lifestyles, preferences, comforts, and even their religion. But whenever these listeners took the time to actually look Jesus in the eyes and see who he was, and really hear what he was saying, they scattered. Like many people today, they were content to have casual association with Jesus, all the while shrinking back from total abandonment to Jesus. In the haunting words of Jesus in Matthew 7, they did all kinds of deeds in his name, yet they never actually knew Jesus. And tragically, the church is likely filled with countless such people today.

Yet there was a small group of men in the first century who refused to retreat from Jesus. They knew that following Jesus meant leaving behind comfort and careers, possessions and position, friends and family, safety and security. It meant fundamental abandonment of sin and self and total adherence to Jesus. It meant thrusting their lives upon his grace, attaching their lives to his person, entrusting their lives to his authority, and devoting their lives to his mission. Jesus’ invitation to follow him was—and is—an invitation into a relationship marked by self-denial, personal intimacy, single-minded ambition, and ultimate joy. When people truly engage the personal invitation of Jesus to follow him, absolutely everything changes, for he is worthy of all our trust, all our dreams, and all our affections.

The natural overflow of being a disciple of Jesus is then to make disciples of Jesus. “Follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). This was a promise: Jesus takes every disciple and makes them into disciple-makers. And this was a command: He told each of his disciples to go and make disciples among every nation, baptizing them and teaching them to obey him. His design is for every single disciple to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples until the gospel spreads to all peoples.

Yet we have subtly and tragically taken the costly command of Christ to go, baptize, and teach all nations and mutated it into a comfortable call for Christians to come, be baptized, and listen in one location. If you were to ask individual Christians today what it means to make disciples, you would likely get jumbled thoughts, ambiguous answers, and probably even some blank stares. In all our activity as Christians and with all our resources in the church, we are practically ignoring the commission of Christ and the essence of what it means to be a disciple of Christ. Yet biblically, if we are not making disciples, can we really be called disciples?

So what does it mean to make disciples? Practically, it means to look at other people and say exactly what Jesus said to his disciples: “Follow me.” When you progress through the New Testament, these are the exact words that Paul uses before Christians in Corinth when he
says, “Follow me, as I follow Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). To make disciples is to intentionally show the life of Christ before others, to share the gospel of Christ with others, to teach the Word of Christ to others, and to do all of this with a view toward reaching every people group in the world with the gospel. Subtly, however, we have practically excused the majority of the church from personally obeying this command and fulfilling this commission of Jesus.

We have farmed this responsibility out to programs and projects, pastors and professionals, ministers and missionaries, and in the process we have missed the joy of sharing and showing the Christ we are following—the Christ that we love and adore, cherish and treasure—to the nations. Evangelism has become a dreaded topic and discipleship has become a canned program in the church, and this must change. This must change for the sake of people all around us who are headed to an eternal hell without Christ, and this must change for our sake, because we were made to spread the gospel, grace, and glory of God as followers of Jesus. We were made to be disciples who make disciples who make disciples who make disciples until the day when we see the face of the One we follow, and together with people from every nation we enjoy his splendor for all of eternity.

  1. As I read this today I find my heart starting to beat faster….out of excitement as well as out of fear….excitement at this total call of Christ upon my life and of how amazing it is to be part of His Body ….and fear based on the total abandonment that this call requires….I take a deep gulp…a deep breath…and whisper a prayer “Jesus may I give myself FULLY to You without holding anything back. And yet I know that I in my flesh I cannot abandon myself fully to You unless Your Spirit enables me to do so. May I hear you call and follow you to make disciples with joy and gratitude and sweet abandon”. As David Platt said in his sermon “Two Little Words” the cost of discipleship is high indeed…but the cost of non-discipleship is even higher…for us in our own experience of Christ’s joy and peace but also in the cost to the unreached in our world who will live and die without ever hearing Christ’s name or the gospel He brings.

  2. Tara said:

    Not only was I convicted by this, but I found myself being filled with longing and passion to share with others the gospel of Christ. Thank you for the kick in the butt! This is a serious matter and shouldn’t be taken as lightly as I have taken it before. God bless you guys!

  3. amen this is so true. Praise the Lord for this emphasis and truth being shared. The small group of the body of Christ alone will do more than all the professional ministers combined.

    “We have farmed this responsibility out to programs and projects, pastors and professionals, ministers and missionaries, and in the process we have missed the joy of sharing and showing the Christ we are following”

  4. Karen said:

    Powerfully truthfully spoken. We have got to get out of the ‘comfortable Christianity’ mindset and do as we were commissioned to do. Thank you so much for this post!

  5. dleewla said:

    Though I totally agree with the sentiments here, I don’t know how to understand where the line is between a casual association with Jesus and total abandonment. Put another way, I think I can distinguish when someone doesn’t want Jesus to intrude upon their lifestyles, preferences, comforts, and even their religion but I’m not as sure what it means to have total abandonment. Is one person’s total abandonment the same as another? I often see people in church who don’t seem like they’ve totally abandoned their lives for God and some who seem like they are closer to that but I wonder how close either of them are? Of course I think the same of myself and wonder am I a true disciple. As stated here, if we are not making disciples we should doubt whether we are ourselves a disciple. I dunno, I find myself challenged by what you want to do but also feel the struggle to understand what true discipleship is.

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