Our guest blogger today is my friend Kerry Doyle, pastor of Grace Bible Church in Kingsport, TN.
“Making disciples of Jesus who love God and others by living and sharing His truth” is our church’s mission statement.
While hopefully well written – all 15 whopping words of it! – we make no claim to great new insights or uniqueness. Frankly, it’s the Great Commandment and Great Commission simply combined with an emphasis on personal application. A quick review: The Great Commandment is to truly and fully love God with all we are. It is followed by the second greatest commandment: loving others in your life, those in need – neighbors – like you already love yourself. Remember this “Q and A” with Jesus? “And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test Him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.“And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:35-40 – ESV) In borrowing this from Jesus for our mission statement, we were following His example. Listen to Moses: “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 strength” (Deut. 6:4, 5). Moses again: “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD” (Lev. 19:18 – NIV). The Great Commandment goes back a few millenniums. It is still very much in play – or should be!
Our second source for our Mission Statement is “The Great Commission”. Though found in various forms in each gospel and in Acts (as well as all of Scripture), the “most famous” Great Commission passage is Matt 28:18-20. Listen! The risen Christ is speaking: “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV). Thus our biblical but boilerplate marching orders: “Making disciples of Jesus who love God and others by living and sharing His truth”.
Your church probably has a similar statement. If not in writing, it is hopefully assumed, implied, part of your DNA. Living this daily as individuals and as groups is to be a disciple, to be missional. When it comes to making disciples of Jesus (live-along, life-long servant learners), “it takes one to make one.” Since Creation, like has produced like. Dogs birth puppies, whales spawn whales while cats produce more little monsters. So too with disciples, just not the cat / monster part.Making converts isn’t the plan. Increasing the head count means little. Jesus commanded us to do the hard work – by God’s grace – to see people become mature followers of Jesus. Discipleship is seen in our love for Him (obedience – not just emotions), and our love for others (seen in practical acts of kindness and mercy).
Disciples of Jesus become like Jesus (Luke 6:40; 1 John 2:6). They show their love for God by knowing and following His word (Deut. 11:1, 22, 23; John 8:30-32; 14:15-24). Being wowed and whipped up in weekend worship says nothing of one’s love for God. It’s Monday- Saturday living that puts the proof in the pudding – whatever that “pudding thing” means. True love for God shows up as a love for others. In fact, a lack of lived-out love equals a lack of living faith (i.e. No love? You ain’t saved!). Re-read 1 John 3 and 4 and James 1 and 2. So called “saving faith” that is lifeless in its love for God and others is a dead faith, a non-faith. For some serious spiritual sobriety, read Matt. 25. In fancy shorthand, disciples are people obsessed with orthodoxy and orthopraxy (right doctrine and behavior). They seek to live out what they know. Tragically, we confuse knowing with being. Biblical knowledge is not indication or guarantee of a biblical lifestyle. Maturity is not measured in amassed data, but daily lived out doctrine. Theology without feet is sin (see James 1:21-26; Matt. 7:24-29).
As part of your love for God and others, are you living and sharing His truth? Are you making disciples? Who? How? When? He not only commands it, He is worth it. However you choose to say it, I pray we are all making disciples of Jesus who love God and others by living and sharing His truth.