In his first letter to the believers at Corinth, the Apostle Paul has a lot to say to them about being disciple-making disciples. Recently, in my daily time with the Lord, I spent a few weeks studying through this letter looking for specific application for my life each day. Paul had a lot to say to me too! Here are some of the personal applications that I received from my time of reflection:
- I will take great care in making disciples.
- I will seek out people who need to hear the truth of the gospel.
- I will desire God and His Word more than the desires of my flesh.
- I will allot time daily for my personal, spiritual development.
- I will guard against those things which I know will tempt me to sin.
- I will be a man that others may imitate.
- I will…
Whoa!!! What did that say?
I will be a man that others may imitate? What am I saying? I am just a sinner, saved by grace! How can I say to someone, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ”?
In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul writes, ” Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” What is even more amazing is that this is the second time he says this in the letter to the Corinthian church! In chapter four, Paul urges them, “…be ye followers of me.” (verse 16).
The context of this exhortation in chapter four is most interesting. Paul pronounces an indictment against the Corinthian believers for their lack of discipleship. He says in verse fifteen, ” For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.” Can you hear Paul’s sarcasm here? Basically, he is saying, “You’ve got 10,000 people who are capable of teaching a class, but you can’t find one person that is willing to make disciples (a.k.a. become a spiritual father)!”
This is as true today as it was in Corinth two millennia ago! There are plenty of people who are willing to serve God in various capacities, but very few willing to become spiritual fathers by making disciples. The process of making disciples is more than a program and more than a Bible study. It is living an authentic life before others. Jesus reserves some of his harshest statements for the Pharisees–the hypocritical, religious over-achievers of his day.
You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:
“‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
(Matthew 15:8-9, ESV)
Being a disciple-making disciple is about living transparently and being conformed day-by-day to the image of God’s son. Now please, don’t allow me to ‘guilt’ you into to becoming a disciple-maker. This process is not to be entered into out of obligation nor for personal glory, but rather as a joyful process of sharing your life with another believer. Are you willing to commit the time and effort required to help a less mature believer become the person that God wants him to be? Are you willing to submit your life to be scrutinized by others? Are you willing to say, “Imitate me, as I am imitating Christ”?