All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples…baptizing them…and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the ends of the age.
Jesus has every right to not only ask something of me, but to issue a command. He has, after all, been given the authority directly from the King of Kings, who happens to be His Father. However, one of these commands is truly difficult for me. Which one? Discipleship. That may seem odd, for those who know me, also are aware this comprises the “bulk” of my life. Yet, truth be told, what I do feels a lot like smoke and mirrors.
To explain, let me expound a minute on what Jesus meant when he used the two words “make disciples.” Simple enough, the phrase came from a Greek word meaning “to train as a follower.” However, it meant much more than just imparting head-knowledge. This word implies deep character-shaping and the cultivation of a biblical world-view (beliefs and values), through a close personal relationship between the disciple and the instructor. In fact, Jesus’ followers would have known this meant the instructor sought to “stamp his image” on his disciples! In order to accomplish this goal, the two must have time, experience, and fellowship with one another. In the end, the student would emulate the instructor, yet not lose his individuality (that’s the real tricky part). Jesus was asking his disciples to go, and do, exactly what he’d been doing with them.
Hence the reason why I wrestle with this command, and why my brand of discipleship doesn’t quite measure up. I love the safety of my office. I can give a measure of myself to the young women I “disciple.” Yet, at night, I can go home, close my door, and isolate myself (well, to a degree). What Jesus is asking is for true relationship, one-on-one time, and doing life together. He’s asking for us to be willing to open up our very messy lives filled with fears, failures, and frustrations to “followers,” and show them how he, himself, would have responded. I have a hard enough time with the revealing, let alone the responding… Only one word comes to mind when I meditate on “making disciples” in its true sense. Ugh! For one who scores fairly high on the introvert section of an MBTI (Myers-Briggs Personality Profile), that much time around others can be exhausting.
Before the “ugh” gets verbalized, however, Jesus jumps in with a promise to wipe out all fears, “I am with you always.” If I have his presence, I have his power. If I have his presence, I have his wisdom. If I have his presence, I have his reactions. If I have his presence, I have his provision. If I have his presence…well, you get the picture. With him, I have no excuses! I can do all things I normally can’t, couldn’t, or wouldn’t. This promise is the best guarantee I can have for doing life with another. Jesus commands me to “go,” but I am never left to “go it alone.” He is with me, even to the end of the age.