Don't Quarantine, Make Disciples
“It’s more caught than taught.” Principles, lifestyles, attitudes, priorities, disciplines, strengths, weaknesses, skills…you name it. They can be caught. Or just taught. Do you agree?
Let’s talk about COVID-19. It definitely gets CAUGHT. How? Everyone who caught coronavirus did so because they were WITH someone who had it. The person who had it didn’t plan to pass it on. It just happened from a personal encounter. Our family never caught COVID-19. However, we have been taught about it: fatigue, high fever, the socially dreaded uncontrollable cough, headache, and loss of taste or smell. We are educated and know the facts. Perspective for us on the disease is super limited because we never had it or “caught” it from someone who did.
How did we avoid catching COVID-19? Quarantine. We stayed home. Avoided people. Kept our distance from them IF we went out. Homeschooled. Closed our circles. It couldn’t be caught if people were not encountered. I’m not bragging, I’m going somewhere. Hang with me.
“He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out…”
Jesus entrusted “His guys” to continue on with His work after He was gone BUT FIRST He called them to BE WITH him as He lived. “THAT THEY MIGHT BE WITH HIM.” They caught His ways by encountering Him over and over. He noticed a man who was blind from birth and healed him (John 9:1-12) and they were WITH Him. The raising of the widow’s son: they were right there WITH Him(Luke 7:11-16). Jesus fed 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish and they were not only with Him, He used the disciples to do it (Matthew 14:13-21). He taught the word to masses, annnnnnd you guessed it: they were WITH HIM AS HE TAUGHT.
Unfortunately we don’t have the luxury of following Jesus around and being WITH HIM like His disciples. We do have four firsthand accounts of that life written by four “WITH HIM” guys: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John AND His parting instructions to them!
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
Make disciples. Everywhere. Baptize them. Teach them. OKAY!!! Except I’m afraid we as a culture -even pre-COVID - may live a little too “quarantined.” We subconsciously design our schedules and really our lives according to our elected priorities. Work. Sports. Hobbies. Vacations. It becomes easy to keep our distance from people because they are inconvenient. Our circles get closed. We avoid the people. This is not a guilt trip. It’s a challenge!
If you’re like me, I confess it’s easy to get in auto-pilot mode. I get into a habit of going through the motions, attending events and doing the things but forgetting to SEE the people. I don’t include and rarely pursue them. It’s what I call being “a mile wide and an inch deep.” Don’t get me wrong. Jesus attended things and did things. He taught and saw needs. He helped and healed, AND he shared His life with the disciples.
Dear Jesus, help me narrow in on those you bring me to disciple and give me the grace to go deep with the ones you call me to help.
Be With People
This year is my “Twana year.” I am now the age that Twana Mullins was when she began to invest in my life. She was the first woman who truly discipled me. When I was a 20 year-old college student, I got invited to a bible study she led in her home. Yes, Twana led a bible study. No, you do not have to lead bible study to make disciples. That was the starting point in her intentional disciple-making.
Twana also exercised at an early morning boot camp and invited me to join her, so I did boot camp. She made dinner for her family and included me in cooking. So I cooked…AND ate! Her husband led a bible study, and I invited my boyfriend to come to that. They both went to church. At the time I met her, I did not go to church regularly. We went to church with them and shared meals afterward. She took her kids to the city pool, and I played with them. Their family went on a bike ride, we joined them. They went hiking – we went hiking. You get the picture. We were WITH them.
My husband actually lived WITH their family in their basement for a year before we were married. Once we were married, we lived in their guest house for 5 years. FIVE YEARS. They shared their lives with us for more than a decade. Now that I am here…now that I am her age when she was investing in me…tears of gratitude fill my eyes. I see what a big sacrifice it was to share her life, but I deeply understand its value. God used her obedience to that command mightily to make me who I am.
Let me be clear: they intentionally taught us AND we caught their vision. Spiritual disciplines like being in the word, memorizing scriptures, sharing the gospel, prayer, using illustrations to teach a concept were all a part of what was passed on to us. Why? Because they LIVED IT OUT.
“..so we cared for you, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” -1 Thessalonians 2:8
Sharing life will be tricky regardless of what season we’re currently experiencing. Working full-time is a load. Having a baby is a handful and a half. College is no joke. Parenting adult children is taxing. Managing grandkids or going back to school or working through a crisis or leading the next event at your church...you name it. Life. Is. Hard. By the grace of God if we are following Jesus, I guarantee He will (also)bring a person. The great commission was a commandment, not a suggestion.
Prayerfully pay attention to that mom at soccer practice that you also bump into at the gym. Invite her to your bible study! Notice that college girl in your peripheral during worship who also happens to be waiting tables when you’re out to eat. The teacher of your kid’s VBS class needs to be discipled. Your co-workers need it. You need it. I do too! If people are already in our circle of acquaintances but you barely know them… Are they following Jesus? Seeking Jesus? Growing? Lost? Do you know? ASK. That’s the starting line.
Our lives are busy so sharing life or being with people or making disciples is WAYYYYYY harder than acquiring a few social media followers. Pray about “who” and have a willing heart to invite them along as you go! Be INTENTIONAL. I challenge YOU to pray the way Jesus prayed FOR his disciples about your own desire to obey the great commission:
Jesus, I know you revealed Your Father to those whom He gave you out of the world. Help me do the same. I want to follow your example. The people you bring my way will belong to You; I ask You to give them to me and help me teach them to obey Your word! My desire is to let them know everything that I have comes from YOU. Help me to live that out and include them in my life. In the name of Jesus, according to Your will, I pray that You help me give them the truth of the word and how You are growing me as I share my life with them. I pray in advance for those You bring that You will enable them to accept Your words. Jesus all I have is YOURS. I am Yours. They are Yours. Father protect them in Your name from the evil one. Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth. Help me to go therefore and make disciples of all those You call me to help. May they be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and I pray you grant me the opportunity to teach them everything you have commanded me. Thank you for the promise that You will be with me every step of the way. AMEN.