I am taking a one-post break from our new identity train of thought for this exciting development. As a geophysicist, I am familiar with the physics of earthquakes; their magnitude, the tsunamis they produce, their precursors, and their aftershocks. Precursors are hard to identify until after the fact, but most major earthquakes give some signal that something big is coming. In the spiritual world, I believe we are feeling the precursors of a coming “discipleship earthquake.” This idea was reinforced by the cover headline, “A Discipleship Revolution” on the latest issue of Mission Frontiers magazine. The publication is available online and I highly recommend it.
Over the last century, by the grace of God and the work of His servants, the gospel message has reached around the globe. People groups of all kind from urban to rural, simple to sophisticated, religious to pagan have turned to Christ. But this turn to the gospel has not always been followed by a continuation to discipleship; the movement to Christian growth and maturity in communities and individuals. In many places, a new “Christian” majority has been unable to lift their country out of political corruption, family dysfunction, petty crime, or a syncretistic mix of Christianity and local religion.
But all of this is about to change. In the Great Commission (Mt 28:18-20), Jesus empowers and instructs His followers to Go, Baptize, Make disciples, and Teach. The “Go’ and the “Baptize” have brought the gospel to millions of new believers. But the “Make disciples” and “Teach” is only now catching up. But catching up it is, like a rubber band being slowly stretched over time with little movement that has now let go and is flying forward.
And the flying forward is being accelerated by love. Our previous error, myself included, was to think that filling one’s head with knowledge was the key to Christian growth. In “teaching them to observe the commandments” have we focused so strongly on having the “right answers” that we ignored teaching the greatest commandment of all; to love God and love others? We move true discipleship forward when we teach believers to love as God loves. “Let us consider how to spur one another on to love and good deeds” (Heb 10:24).
The discipleship revolution is being fueled by love. If we love Christ, we will obey His commands (Jn 14:15). If we love others, we will serve them (Gal 5:13). It is really that simple, no caveats, no exceptions. And it is taking off in a million acts of love from Jars of Clay’s 1000 wells project to home building missions in Juarez, Mexico to serving a Thanksgiving meal to your family and friends.
The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization recently concluded in Cape Town, South Africa. The conference brought together a diverse group of mission leaders and strategists. As always with this type of event, a statement of belief was produced. When John Stott, elder statesman of the sponsor organization, looked over the first draft, he approved, “Evangelicals usually write statements that affirm or deny, but this is the language of love.”