Tuesday 9th April
As I sit on my couch and look out my living room window, I realise I am blessed to have a mini forest outside my flat. In the summer the trees have so many flowers and leaves on them that you cant see through them. Various birds come and chirp at our windows, squirrels chase each other up and down the branches. It almost feels like there is an atmosphere of celebration outside our window. However, much like the rest of this nation, we are still waiting for summer. In fact April still finds itself lingering in the bitter chill of winter. We know spring is near but what was once a beautiful array of God’s creation outside my window now looks like a forgotten barren land. Puny withered trees greet me each morning looking bare and without character. Yet what intrigues me is the fact that there now is an increasing number of birds gathering again, chirping and singing away. Why? I believe it is because they are expectant that spring’s new life is soon approaching. They sense the seasons, are expectant and rejoice in new life.
Jesus in His commission to the disciples, gives clear instructions to “Go and make and disciples of all nations”. What does it mean to make disciples? Is Jesus saying, go and get as many people into My kingdom as possible? Well, some would argue yes to that. But discipleship is more than just getting people into heaven; it’s training to be like the person they are following. The Rabbinical ideology of a disciple was one of a student like apprentice. The disciples would literally follow the rabbi as he taught them the scriptures and how to observe the laws. Jesus’ idea of discipleship was similar. He significantly chose twelve disciples whom He could train and mentor to carry out His work after His ascension. Mark 3:13-15 summarises discipleship like this, “And He went up to the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. And He appointed the twelve, that they might be with Him, and that He might send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out demons”. Jesus spent 3 and half years training the twelve disciples. Discipleship is not something that happens overnight but is an investment into someone’s life helping them to become more like Jesus and to encourage them to share Jesus with others.
Sometimes when we are investing in people’s lives, we might get discouraged at not seeing the fruit of our labour but remember that discipleship doesn’t happen overnight. It’s like the birds that sing outside my window. They know spring is coming soon and are expectant yet if they had human eyes they might get discouraged at the lack of green growing in the trees. Yet we must too be expectant to see what God will do if we are obedient to His commission. Go and make disciples! Help people become more like our Lord Jesus Christ. For investing in them will produce good fruit, through the Holy Spirits work in their lives.
“So let’s not get tired in doing what is good (preaching the good news and discipling others). At the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up!”
(Galatians 6:9 <parentheses added>)