Sunday, March 18, 2012



To continue our thoughts contrasting and comparing evangelism and discipleship, I want to remind you that Jesus is not pushing for us to evangelize or proselytize anyone. Jesus makes it very clear that He only wants us to make disciples or make the people of all nations to become followers of Him.
Jesus gives us how to best be a disciple-maker. Jesus first wants you to be a disciple-a follower of Him. Then, your lifestyle of being a follower can be observed and shared most credibly. Within the teachings of Jesus there are four specific ways He shares for all of His followers to do so. These four ways not only grow those who have committed to following Jesus; they also most effectively show Jesus off to the nations of the world.

Let me summarize the first three we examined last session. First, Jesus wants you to embrace His lifestyle for yourself by developing the habit of walking with Jesus every day. Second, Jesus wants you to love one another-primarily other disciples-by developing the habit of walking with a few others who are following Jesus every day. And third, Jesus wants you to follow Him and pay special attention to where the heart of Jesus is-the needy and the disenfranchised-by developing the habit of waiting on Jesus to lead out with orders and opportunities. Remember, this is not evangelism as we have come to define it or proselyting in any way. This is discipleship the Jesus way!

The fourth foundational teaching of Jesus on how to be a disciple and make disciples may be the most important of the four I'm sharing with you. I've shared it before and you've certainly heard it before. My prayer is that this time around you might see it as a lifestyle you can embrace more diligently than ever!

Here's the problem. This teaching can't just be taught; it must be caught!
Jesus repeatedly taught what He had come to believe was the greatest commandment of all. Even when He was asked the question, "What is the greatest commandment?", Jesus answered this question very uniquely. He couldn't give just one commandment, but felt the need to share two-a kind of two in one!

On three occasions Jesus shared this same "greatest" commandment. Let's take a look at each one.

The first is in the 12th chapter of the Gospel of Mark: One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself. 'There is no commandment greater than these." "Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices." When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

The second is in the 10th chapter of the Gospel of Luke: On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?" He answered: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."

The third is in the 22nd chapter of Matthew: Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Here's how I see this teaching. Anyone anywhere can do this! I was haunted throughout my youth whether I could ever please God and do His will. If these teachings of Jesus had been reframed for me so that I could embrace them as a lifestyle, I think I would have bought into them. The will of God was always a mystery to me. In fact, as I began to work and speak at youth conferences, the most frequent question thrown at me was, "How can I know the will of God for my life?"

Jesus makes it so simple. Love God and love your neighbor and you'll be doing the will of God with great assurance!

In John's first letter, he wrote something very profound. He said, "God is love." Now, if God is love then when you love, you are acting like God-you are acting God out!

Do you want to show Jesus off? Do you want the God of gods to shine through your life? Make it your ultimate and daily purpose to practice two things: Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself! A disciple of Jesus doesn't just talk about love. Jesus' disciples are lovers!