During our gathering at Sojourn yesterday I had one of those moments of clarity – you know one of those moments where something becomes stupidly simple and clear to you; so much so that you wonder how much more of your life is covered in haze. Anyway, as we were talking about the process of making disciples (be it in any trade or religion) – what really stood out to me was how personal the process is supposed to be. You see, disciple making is mainly a relationship thing. Someone comes along side of you and watches what you say, pays close attention to what you do, and then is supposed to repeat those actions until they have gained some skills themselves. It really is a beautiful process when done correctly. So, while I was sitting there, a rush of thoughts came to me, all centered around the process of making disciples – many could become the subject of future blogs (how I was never truly discipled, how most American churches don’t disciple, how shallow our faith-walk has become) but one simple realization stood out the most.
There is a real difference between making disciples and making converts. “Converting” someone is all about getting someone to change their mind about something. A conversion can happen alone or in groups. It can happen through careful reasoning, a small amount of nagging guilt, dogged perseverance, a genuine epiphany, or by some electrifying emotional experience. Now nothing is wrong with a “conversion” but compare that to the disciple making process. It cannot happen alone, it must happen in a community of at least two. It is not an overnight process, it takes time. A conversion is a one time experience, discipleship is a lifelong process where the journey is the destination. Truly the biggest difference is that a “conversion” can be a very personal, private thing, while discipleship is lived out in a public relationship.
So now, here, today, is where my thoughts are on the subject. Did Jesus ask us to go and make converts or go and make disciples? Did he say to the twelve “come follow me” or did he ask them “if you were to die tonight…?” It seems to me that we have gotten that question mixed up? Sure some have been gifted as evangelist and have no problem pushing people to that point of conversion, but most of us, me included, have not been gifted that way and struggle with a lot of guilt over not being able to go door-to-door discussing a complete stranger’s eternal destination. But today, here I sit with the realization that I am simply called to be in relationship with people, and through that relationship, I am to teach people what I have learned about Christ. Now that is something doable, that is something I can be excited about, and apparently, that is what we have all been commissioned to do.
I am not saying that I have it all figured out, I am not even saying that it is my responsibility to completely fill someone’s cup. All God is asking of me (and you) is that I empty mine into someone else’s. That is my calling. And that is discipleship.
So, since we are talking, “if you were to die tonight….” Just kidding! May your days be filled with meaningful relationships as you journey in this life with God and may your heart be restored and renewed as you give your life away to someone else.