Yeah, we go into week two on the Multiply study and what do you know? It does not get any easier. We knew this was going to be the case, but we face it head on. We approach it as an adventure, as an opportunity. This week brought on the ideas to think about and ponder…. baptisms, discipleship training and our involvement in church.
In this section Francis clarifies his view of baptism as laid out in the gospels. He indicates that baptism is a monumental declaration. When I was introduced to the Jesus, it was explained to me that a water baptism was a public profession of my belief of Jesus as the son of God and that he died for my sins and now I have a new life.
This week I begin to really understand the challenge of what the significance of a baptism is and what it was meant to be. It is an outward proclamation that the person is now declaring that they are going to follow Jesus and be a bondservant to Jesus and his ministry and will. This brings on a bit more meaning to me now.
I remember where I was discipled for about 3 weeks and went over counting the costs. Now I understand in more detail that the baptism was saying I surrender me to him, not only to free me and forgive me of my past, but to also set the path for how I live going forward.
When we start talking about being committed to making disciples, teaching and leading people to follow Jesus more efficiently, this baptism moment changes for me. I am used to hearing about churches being all excited about having dozens of baptisms each week. The concept is great, but the question then becomes the motivation and the effectiveness.
If churches are just putting on programs and providing a 21st century social club, but not disciples, then it begins to look a lot like the farmer who scatter lots of seeds. but the harvest was scarce. Does the farmer get all excited and brag about how many thousands of seeds he planted? I would have to say no. Now when the harvest comes and he has abundance, that is something that can be taken as an accomplishment.
In the same way, we are reminded in many parables shared by Jesus that the harvest will be the rest of a great work, of planting, watering, protecting and nurturing to the point that the plant bears fruit. I believe that this is the same when it comes to baptisms and the churches today. Much effort is spent advertising and drawing in new believers and all those seeds get scattered, but what happens to that seed once it sprouts?
Then the eye-opener for this week for me was the concept of training disciples. There are many good churches with good intentions and the idea of getting new people plugged in. Get them stable and healthy. I envision this similar to getting a plant growing. Then the struggle begins. I see groups and groups of individuals gathering week after week to join in bible study/community and great relationships are formed. The groups go through video studies, bible studies and have dinner together a lot and essentially grow old together. This really is not the commandment that Jesus gave.
Have you ever realized that you probably would not have heard about Jesus and the offer of salvation if churches 2000 years ago were operated like ours today? It takes one person to talk and share with another, then that one in turn ends up sharing with another. The book had a great section in and around page 32 where it talks about discipling is not just checking off a box in life.
Realistically, this will require a lifetime of devotion to studying the Scriptures and investing in the people around us. Neither of these things is easy, nor can they be checked off of a list. We are never really “done.” We continually devote ourselves to studying the Scriptures so that we can learn with ever-greater depth and clarity what God wants us to know, practice, and pass on. We continually invest in the people around us, teaching them and walking with them through life’s joys and trials.
The interesting thing is that we don’t ever get done making disciples. I also liked the part where it says that from time to time new people will come along and we start the whole process over again. I can not see where I have had a different inaccurate view of the Christian walk. I love volunteering and doing what needs to be done to glorify God, but now I see the element of personal connections and discipleship making to educate and expand the Kingdom is critical.
How did you do this week?