It’s not odd to hear someone say, “If you’re going to make disciples, you should make them like Jesus did. At first thought, it almost makes perfect sense until we realize that we can’t.
While there may be some who have actually left their homes, vocations, and families, chosen a dozen followers who would also leave their homes, vocations, and families, live together, learn together, laugh together, and love others together 24/7 for 3+ years, I think it would be very rare. I’m not denying that these kinds of people or scenarios CAN exist, but it is certainly not the norm. If you do know of people like this, I would certainly like to hear about it.
Even if there were such persons, I don’t believe we can make disciples like Jesus did, but we can make disciples in the manner that He told us to. Would this make any difference in the manner the modern church executed the great commission? I’m not sure. Perhaps the nuance between the two is so slight that it will make little difference to anyone reading this. Perhaps though, it just might relieve some of the burden that we have either placed on ourselves or on others. There is a subtle argument which may or may not have merit, I’ll leave that up to you. It goes something like this:
We are to be Christlike.
Christ made disciples.
Therefore, we are to make disciples like Christ did.
While this syllogism is logically valid, it might not be biblical? Aren’t there many things that Christ did in His disciple making that are beyond our human capacity? Even if we are a true disciple of Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit, it certainly is not normative to see the church doing “ALL” the things that Christ did in His making disciples of the 12.
In a recent article, the author said;
Jesus invited His disciples to ‘be with Him’ in His life and mission instead of trying to set aside extra time to disciple them.
But isn’t that exactly what Jesus did? He ‘set aside’ 3 years. He took a sabbatical from making tables so that He could bring others to them. Jesus’ style of discipleship was certainly extra-ordinary. It was both human and divine.
The WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) style of discipleship will have its successes, but I think they are more accidental and less sustainable. Again, our goal is not to disciple others like Jesus did, but to disciple like He told us to.
Are there things to emulate in Jesus’ style of discipleship? Certainly. Are there ‘greater things than these?’ (John 14:12-14) Definitely. Are we to try a retrofit discipleship and leave our jobs etc. for lengthy periods of time in order to disciple someone like Jesus did? Probably not.
One final thought… Jesus’ vocation from eternity past was, well… being God. Carpentry was a temporary assignment until He got back to the business of being God again. (I know… He was always God), relax.
All that said, unless you are fortunate enough to be able to leave all aside for a time in order to disciple people, you’ll have to find ways to disciple others through detours, deviations, and a constant barrage of distractions.
So, which is it? Do we Make Disciples like Jesus did, or do we make disciples like Jesus told us to?