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Making a Way for Others

Jesus is full of surprises: How can the ruler of the world become an example of obedience? How can the object of worship himself become an example of how to worship with heart, soul, mind and strength? How can the perfect Son of God call others to follow him, and then demonstrate the way to follow? It’s part of his genius, his glory, his nature. What’s more, he not only showed us how it’s done, he empowered us to do the same. Real discipling is about making a way for others to approach the Father. If we’re only talking about Jesus, most of us are comfortable with this paradox, but most amazingly--he calls us to do the same.

The gospel record demonstrates Jesus lived a life of obedience to the Father and called us into the same obedience. But Jesus did not leave us to struggle with obedience alone. Jesus, the Master Teacher, was also the Master Equipper:

“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.” (John 16: 12 - 15)
As his followers, we are called to make disciples as well, teaching others to obey everything he commanded.
There are two great problems as we attempt to live up to this commission today: First, many of us see discipleship only in terms of following Jesus, and almost never in terms of leading others. Second, if we try to lead others, we run the risk of demanding of other people obedience to Jesus without actually equipping them to obey him. Both these challenges are critical to our personal development as students of Jesus. Our personal spiritual growth depends on coming to terms with these challenges, and the destiny of others depends on our response as well.

Leading others: How many of us receive the call to discipleship as a personal call from God to become a leader? We may come to him because we need a Savior, but if we choose to become a follower of Jesus we must also realize we are also choosing the responsibility to lead others. This is what it means to follow him: we act on his behalf in the lives of others. It’s more than “sharing our faith.” It’s taking responsibility for other people’s lives until they are mature followers of Jesus. He showed us--in very practical ways--exactly how it works.

Equipping others: Jesus gave his disciples the tools necessary to live a healthy life with God. He did more than demand; he did more than point the way; he empowered his followers. He pointed to issues of the heart (as in Matthew 5); he included his students as partners in ministry, giving them hands-on experience (as in Matthew 10); and, as the passage from John 16 indicates, he introduced them to the Holy Spirit, effectively opening the resources of heaven to each of his disciples. What about us? As disciple makers, do we interact with those God has given us in the same way? Do we teach about heart-matters? Do we release our students into ministry? Do we introduce them to the Holy Spirit?

First things first: we cannot equip others until we believe we are called to lead others. It will not do to claim, “I have no one to lead.” Jesus is our model: he came in obedience to the Father and simultaneously became a leader of others. We must do the same, and God has provided venues for our leadership: in our homes, among our friends, at work or school, or in our community. We were called to change the world by allowing God to change us and by becoming God’s agents of change where he leads us.

Who knew discipleship would require everything we have? I suspect the Master did.

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Reader Comments (2)

Okay Ray, did you even once think this meditative offering wouldn't evoke some sort of off the wall response from me? You know what it's like to answer an insistent call kicking and scratching in resistance. Let me share a couple of memories you just stimulated.

The memory of miracle is really an accumulation of responses that have come back to me. In essence it goes about like this, "Thank you for sharing exactly the right words, they saved my life!" I respond, " what words were those? I'm sorry but I don't remember." Back at me, "You know, those three words you said last month in that hit the nail right on the head." My only possible response, "Those three words came out of my mouth, I remember now, but they weren't from me. You know me, I can't give my own observations less than a thesis in length. Thank you so much for sharing how much three words meant to you. In you doing so I get to thank He who observes all for using me so fruitfully, thank you."

There is a life time of remembering, that's what old people do, how I have been used. There is, also, in the same period those who advanced me when I was slipping who knew not the divine significance of what they said or did.

You, Ray, are often one of those, thank you for an open heart and mind. On the Internet it is often the silent lurkers who get the answer they need the most. Neither you nor I need to know we helped, we need to only know the true source for that help.

This is thesis in length so you can rest assured I am allowed to share honestly in our Disciple of Jesus labs.

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHerm Halbach

Thanks for your consistent encouragement, Herm, and I'm pleased if these (few) words stirred up some good memories. You are welcome here (and to comment here) any time. Peace to you . . .

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRay Hollenbach

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