I’ve been reflecting quite a bit recently on the idea of discipleship and the church’s role to make disciples, both outside and within its walls. Tom Graves’s Wednesday night program on stewardship touched on some parallel ideas, like how being disciples means we are called to be good stewards of not just our financial resources but of our very lives.
This week I came across a blog entry that showed a very emotional clip of a pastor, David Platt, speaking to church leaders and contrasting the cost of discipleship with the cost of non-discipleship. In it he says:
“…the cost of discipleship is great. To live with radical abandonment for His glory, faithful adherence to His person, urgent obedience to His ministry—this is costly…. But I submit to you this morning that the cost of non-discipleship is far, far, far greater…. There’s great cost for all who settle for casual association with Jesus and miss out on the abundance and satisfaction and joy that he has designed for us. There’s a cost that comes to monotonous routine Christianity. Don’t do it and don’t lead churches like that. We’ll waste our lives away like that. The cost will be great for us and the church…And the cost of nominal Christianity will be great for those who are lost in this world. For people in our communities, our cities, for people groups are the world who will go on without the Gospel, because we are content with not making disciples of all the nations.” [Emphasis mine]
The story of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well is often set as an exemplar for making disciples. After the woman’s encounter with Jesus, she goes back to her city and tells others about it and about Him. We read that many from that city believed in Jesus because of the woman’s testimony.
Nathan Elmore, Baptist Collegiate Minister at VCU, has been leading us in a series on Christian-Muslim relations. He uses this same story as a paradigm for how we should relate to our Muslim brothers and sisters. Nathan shared that they don’t need a lesson on doctrine or an argument about correct belief. They need a personal encounter with Jesus. In this Biblical encounter, Jesus did not berate the Samaritan for wrong belief or tell her she needed to convert; He simply offered her Himself. Would that we would pattern Jesus’ behavior as we encounter others with whom we disagree!
At Communion I attended Friday evening, the congregation served each other the elements and spoke the words, “You are the body of Christ” as we passed the bread, “Share God’s salvation” as we offered the cup. It was a reminder that we are the personal encounter with Jesus that so many in our communities need. May we have the courage to share the good news of Jesus Christ in all that we do, all that we say, all that we are.