Lately I have been thinking a lot about what it means to make disciples. Most Christians I know are aware that we are to be sharing the good news of salvation through the work of Jesus Christ and teaching others how to follow him, but there is often a disconnect with what we know we should be doing and what we are actually doing.
Who we are is the sum of our actions, not just what we think.
When I look at my own life I know that I have a deep desire to honor God by sharing the hope that he has given me, but I also see a life that is easily distracted with a full schedule, meals, work, and a host of other things to fill my time.
My great desire to teach others about Christ can be swallowed up by a host of good things. Of course there is nothing wrong with planning for dinner. There is nothing wrong with winding down at night and watching a movie with your family. There is nothing wrong with playing on a sports league. But there is something wrong when amidst all those good things you cannot identify anyone in your life who you are intentionally investing in to follow and love Jesus. There is something wrong if we don’t tell them the gospel. There is something wrong when people around us aren’t affected by eternal, life-saving, truth. How can we keep it private? It’s surprisingly easy.
I write this with the feeling of shame at my lack of urgency for people, but I also write this with hope. Hope because I know that disciple making isn’t merely a process, but it’s a culture - it’s who we are, it’s how we operate. It’s not for the seminary trained or ministry professionals, it’s for everyone. I want to make a series of posts over the next few weeks on what God is teaching me about disciple making. In a nut shell, it’s that I want to become a follower of Christ (a learner) and I want to always be leading others to follow and love Christ too (a teacher). It should be who I am. In other words, I should be able to say, ‘I can’t help it.”
But today I wanted to simply post about motive. I recently read a story written by William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army called A Vision of The Lost. This story captures the spiritual reality of lost souls and the sad distraction and complacency of those who are saved.
"I saw a dark and stormy ocean. Over it the black clouds hung heavily; through them every now and then vivid lightening flashed and loud thunder rolled, while the winds moaned, and the waves rose and foamed, towered and broke, only to rise and foam, tower and break again.
In that ocean I thought I saw myriads of poor human beings plunging and floating, shouting and shrieking, cursing and struggling and drowning; and as they cursed and screamed they rose and shrieked again, and then some sank to rise no more.
And I saw out of this dark angry ocean, a mighty rock that rose up with it’s summit towering high above the black clouds that overhung the stormy sea. And all around the base of this great rock I saw a vast platform. Onto this platform, I saw with delight a number of the poor struggling, drowning wretches continually climbing out of the angry ocean. And I saw that a few of those who were already safe on the platform were helping the poor creatures still in the angry waters to reach the place of safety.
On looking more closely I found a number of those who had been rescued, industriously working and scheming by ladders, ropes, boats and other means more effective, to deliver the poor strugglers out of the sea. Here and there were some who actually jumped into the water, regardless of the consequences in their passion to "rescue the perishing." And I hardly know which gladdened me the most- the sight of the poor drowning people climbing onto the rocks reaching a place of safety, or the devotion and self-sacrifice of those whose whole being was wrapped up in the effort for their deliverance.
As I looked on, I saw that the occupants of that platform were quite a mixed company. That is, they were divided into different "sets" or classes, and they occupied themselves with different pleasures and employments. But only a very few of them seemed to make it their business to get the people out of the sea.
But what puzzled me most was the fact that though all of them had been rescued at one time or another from the ocean, nearly everyone seemed to have forgotten all about it. Anyway, it seemed the memory of its darkness and danger no longer troubled them at all. And what seemed equally strange and perplexing to me was that these people did not even seem to have any care- that is any agonizing care- about the poor perishing ones who were struggling and drowning right before their very eyes... many of whom were their own husbands and wives, brothers and sisters and even their own children."