MAKE DISCIPLES, BAPTIZING THEM
Jesus said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. (You) Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them..." Mt 28:18-19
If we are to go and make disciples, it would be well if we know what one is, and whose one is to be. When Jesus called Peter and Andrew from their nets, He said, "Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men." Mk 1:17 A disciple of Jesus is one who follows Him until His creative love has made them what they are intended to become, and He teaches them where they are to go and what they are to do.
As His disciples, they are followers of Jesus, they are to abandon their lives, their families and their work to Him. There is no person and no thing that is to stand between Jesus and us as He teaches and recreates us to become His presence in the world.
We are not to belong to Peter or Paul or Apollos, we are to belong to Jesus. We are not to follow anyone save those in whom we see Him incarnate by Holy Spirit's presence. There is only one mark whereby we can recognize His disciples. "By this shall all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." Jn 13:35
A disciple is one who is a follower who is seeking to be found in the image of the One whom he follows. He is one who is sold out to the One he follows as Master. There is no other measure for his life.
The world's religions are all of the same nature in that the followers of a leader are seeking to be like the leader. Whether Christian, Jew, Moslem or Buddhist, all follow the way they have been taught. The major difference is that Christian disciples are not to follow in their own ego strength. They are to seek the grace of God to recreate them in the image and likeness of Jesus who has opened the Kingdom to us.
A disciple of Jesus is a person who has abandoned their whole life into the hands of God. He is one who has turned the initiative in his life over to Holy Spirit, who comes to make Jesus a reality by incarnating Him in the disciple's flesh.That does not make the disciple God. It makes him God like. It makes him the physical expression of the Risen Lord in human flesh.
STUDY AND REVELATION
In order to grow in Christ Jesus, we must see that there is more required than knowing about God. From the study of the Scriptures we can learn about God. That is education. As we give ourselves to prayer and open our hearts to God, He reveals Himself to us. That is revelation. That is one of the major differences between the Christian Faith and any of the other religions of the world.
When Peter made his confession at Caesarea Philippi, Jesus pointed out that it was not education that enabled Peter to make that response. It was His Father in heaven. Mt 16:17
To demonstrate that it was not something in which Peter had the initiative, He later turned to the same Peter to say, "Get behind me, Satan! ...you are not on the side of God but of men." Mt 16:23 Revelation is not the best thoughts of man about God. It is God stepping into a living relationship with the children He has adopted in His only begotten Son. It is getting to know God, as well as know about God.
We study the Scriptures to find out about the One we seek to know in prayer. A disciple of Jesus Christ is not one who seeks to follow a set of doctrines or rules. He is one who has put his life into the hands of God, and now learns how to walk with his hand in God's hand to be led into the purpose for which he was created and to which he is being called at the present moment.
Study without prayer will not bring one to know God. Prayer without study leaves one without a stable image of the Master he has elected to follow. When we adopt both study and prayer, we are informed, or formed within. We come to know about God, and we come to know Him.
GRACE IS ESSENTIAL
Holy Spirit is an essential part of the revelation of God in His quest for His children. Anyone who has given the Bible a cursory glance will realize that we are not able to do the works that He did in our own strength. That is why He told His disciples clearly that they needed to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
In teaching about the love of His Father, Jesus pointed out that He gives Holy Spirit to those who ask. There are three necessary actions. Ask. Allow Abba to give Holy Spirit as a gift from above. Receive Holy Spirit, as a gift of love from Abba. It is helpful to know that the way to receive Holy Spirit is to give yourself to Holy Spirit.
When you ask, let Him begin the transforming work He comes to do. He does not come to find out what we want Him to do for us. He comes to do for us what Abba has revealed in Jesus. He brings light into our darkness. He brings strength into our weakness. He brings forgiveness to remove our guilt. He comes to incarnate Jesus in us that we might become all we are intended to be.
Jesus was insistent that all of His disciples receive Holy Spirit before they left Jerusalem for their mission to the world for which He died. "Stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high." Lk 24:49
IT TAKES A DECISION
To become a disciple of Jesus Christ takes a decision. It is not a matter of particular words. It is a matter of the will. It is the intent of the heart to seek Jesus, to find Him, to know Him, to love Him, to follow Him, to serve Him. It is a matter of seeking to put Him before all else
It is a matter of putting ourselves, in so far as we are able, completely at His disposal. There is not a pattern we can follow, because there is no one else like us in the creation. We can only enter into the dialog of prayer and the discipline of study.
Whatever tradition we elect to follow as we express our love and worship, the one common event in our lives that we share is that central decision to seek, find and follow. We will each find a slightly different path if we are following a living Lord. We can find common ground for worship and fellowship in community, but we will all be a unique expression of Jesus' presence in the world.
We need not fight over the differences we express, if we can hold fast to the awareness that we are all seeking the same One. We are all seeking to find Him and know Him, and allow Him, not another human, to hold the initiative in our lives.
One may seek God in the silence of a monastery, and another in the praise service of a charismatic church, but it is the same God we are seeking, and He comes to one as well as to the other. He uses the one as well as any other who is willing to be His disciple - one who will study to find out what God is like, and pray for the unfolding revelation of His love in the context of the community of His Body, the church, seeking not to be conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of his mind, proving what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God, here and now.
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