Related to the first misconception, another misconception…
2) Misconception: I don’t have the gift to disciple someone else so I don’t have to do it.
Okay, you might be convinced at this point–this Great Commission does apply to me, but wouldn’t you know, I don’t have the gift. Preachers have the gift of teaching so they preach. Pastors have a gift of shepherding so they shepherd. Evangelists evangelize. Disciplers disciple. I don’t have those gifts. Therefore, it’s sufficient for me to stay in the back pew and on occasion invite my friends to church during Christmas and Easter. Let others who are more gifted take it from there.
This is true to some degree. We all have gifts. Some have the gift of evangelism and so they should exercise that gift and be freed up so that they can be in the community and evangelize. Some have the gift of teaching and so they should be given opportunities to teach.
This focus on giftedness has resulted in many churches organizing people into gift-based committees. You have the welcome committee and those with the gift of hospitality sign-up. Because they are good at welcoming people. Or, the community service committee and those with a gift of mercy sign-up. Or, the outreach committee or a missions committee and people with an evangelistic gift or a mission-mindset sign-up. And because of the way things are divided up into these gift-based committees, if you look at yourself and you don’t have a particular gift, you don’t sign-up. If you don’t have an evangelistic gift or a missional gift, hey, you’re off the hook. It’s not your concern. Someone else will take care of it.
Each person has a different gift so we should serve using our gifts to our full potential. However, disciple making is not a matter of gifting. It is a matter of obedience.
When Jesus gave the Great Commission, he gave it to all his disciples, who were representative of all Christians. So regardless of which gifts you have, this imperative verb, this command to make disciples is something every believer has to do. Making disciples is a choice. If you are not making disciples, you are disobeying a direct command of God. Have you thought about it like that?
Going, baptizing and teaching are all components of what disciple making entails. When it comes to disciple making, Jesus doesn’t take the pass-the-baton approach. Like the 4×100 meter sprint where each runner passes the baton to the next runner. Jesus doesn’t say, the extroverts, you go out there and meet a whole bunch of people. Bring them to church. Then, pass the baton to some mature Christians. They will take the newcomers under their wings and teach them until they accept Christ. Then, you pass the baton to the baptizers. The pastor. He will baptize them for you. Thank goodness because you don’t want to enter the baptistry and get wet. Then, the pastor passes the baton to the teachers. Who then teach the newly baptized converts about faith and doctrine.
All three–going, baptizing, teaching–are actually rolled up under one command, make disciples. And if making disciples is every Christian’s responsibility, then all three–going, baptizing, teaching–are also every Christian’s responsibility. Do you see the logic?
Some of you here, frankly, will be more effective in making disciples than others. I get it. But we all have to try our best. At church, we can all help each other become better at making disciples. That’s what church is for. But we can’t pass the baton and say, I invited the guy. Now someone else can take over. No, making disciples who make disciples who make disciples is every Christian’s responsibility. This is not my idea. if you have a complaint, bring it up to Jesus. After all, it’s his idea.
You might say, hey, I want to do this. But all the nations? Really? Are you serious? That’s too much. The task is overwhelming. I look at the task and I look at myself and my limited gift set and the gap is too enormous. All the nations? Can’t do it. And so we don’t even try. Let the gifted ones try. The John Pipers, and Tim Kellers and the Rick Warrens of the world. Let them try. Let’s the full-time ministers and missionaries try. Not me.
Yes, I agree, the task is overwhelming. And we can be tempted very easily to give up even before we try. What gives us the confidence to try?
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 THEREFORE, go and make disciples…
Why can we be confident to go and make disciples. Because all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus. He defeated sin and death on the cross and he proved it by dying and resurrecting 3 days later. THEREFORE, we can go and make disciples under the authority of Jesus.
If I told you, you can run for President of the United States and I said, don’t worry, I’ll help you. You can do it. But the reality is, you have no previous political experience and I have no connections with anyone in high places and I have no money so I can’t fund your campaign efforts, then me telling you to run for office might make you feel good because I am there for you emotionally, but these are just hollow promises. They’re empty words. Because I don’t really have anything to offer to help you move even one step closer to becoming the President.
In contrast, when Jesus says, go and make disciples. We go out confidently in the authority of Jesus. In the name of Jesus. Because he won the victory and claimed all authority in heaven and on earth at the cross. THEREFORE, we can go and make disciples with confidence. Not because we are great. But because Jesus is great and we go out under his authority and power.