This summer I had the chance to speak at a retreat on discipleship. I gave three talks on “The Crisis of Commitment: How We Can Seek First the Kingdom in a Me-First World”. Today I’m sharing the last part in the series. If you’d like more, you can listen to the message in full over on our podcast.
In my last post, I discussed the importance of commitment to community, which is to say commitment to the family of believers. Now let’s turn our attention to committing ourselves to the craft, to the family business.
Welcome to the Family Business
This concept is best understood by examining the life and work of Jesus. Jesus did not come to Earth on a sightseeing trip. He did not come here to hang out. Jesus came to Earth on business for God. (John 4.34; 17.6)
Over 40 times in the Gospel of John Jesus describes himself as the one who was sent by the Father, into the world, to accomplish his work. Then in John 17, Jesus prays this about his disciples: “As you sent me into the world, I am now sending them.”
The work of Jesus is now our work.
Jesus said: “I have come to call sinners to repentance. I have come to seek and to save the lost. I have come to proclaim freedom to the captives. I have made your name known to them. I have given them your word. I have come that they might have life.” (Lk 5.32; 19.10; 4.18; Jn 17.26; 17.14; 10.10)
The work of Jesus is to bring us back to God. “Christ died for sins, once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” (1 P 3.18)
The work of Jesus is to create a people who live with God: “Christ died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live together with Him.” (1 Th 5.10)
The work of Jesus is to create a people who live for God: “Christ died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves, but for him who died and rose again on their behalf.” (2 C 5.15)
In short, the work of Jesus is to make disciples. To create a people on the earth who belong to God, who live with God and who live for God.
That is the work of Jesus, that is the family business, that is the work we have been called to participate in.
Mark 6: The Lesson of the Loaves
As with all things, the best way we can equip ourselves for this work is by looking into the Word of God. The feeding of the 5000 is one of my favorite stories about Jesus and his disciples. And I believe it has much to teach us about vision, heart, and work ethic. And I want you to be engaged in this learning exercise! So to get us started:
Take a few minutes to read Mark chapter 6.30-44.
Here are some things to consider as you’re reading:
- Imagine you’re shooting this entire scene for a movie. You have to take the story from mere words on a page to a live-action video! Who are the characters? What locations will you need to film and what is the action that happens? What is the overall emotion of the scene?
- Imagine you are one of the disciples in the boat. How are you feeling as you push away from shore to go on this retreat with Jesus?
- As the boat nears shore, what do you see? How are you feeling now?
- What does Jesus see as the boat comes to shore? (v. 34)
- How does Jesus feel about what he sees? That compassion is important! (v. 34)
- What does Jesus do in response? (v. 34)
- You get the idea that Jesus was teaching for a while. How do you think the disciples were feeling during this time?
- What do you imagine they were doing while Jesus was teaching the people “many” things?
- When it grew late, what suggestion did the disciples come to Jesus with? (vv. 35-36)
- What was his counter-suggestion? (“You give them something to eat!”, v. 37)
- What was their objection? (v. 37)
- What did Jesus say to that? How much do you have? (v. 38) Go and see! Bring me what little you have… (v. 41) I will bless and multiply it…
So you can give it to those who are hungry…
So they can eat and be filled.
- What was the result? “They all ate and were satisfied.” (vs. 42)
There is so much to take away from this story! If you join Jesus in his work, it will be enough. “They all ate and were satisfied.”
And I’ll say this: getting involved in the family business, dedicating yourself to the craft, will involve hard work. Like it did for Jesus and the disciples in this story, it will often involve the sacrifice of your plans, your space, and your comfort. But it’s worth it!
We should “stand firm and let nothing move us. We should always give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord because we know that our labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
Getting Started in the Craft
So, let me give you some attitudes and steps to help you get started in committing to the craft.
The 2 attitudes I want you to cultivate are: Enthusiasm for the present and excellence for the future.
Enthusiasm: If you’re just getting started in helping others walk with Jesus, be wholehearted in serving however you can.
Excellence: Develop the attitude of a learner. Dedicate yourself to growing in the craft by having an attitude of excellence for the future. Take notes, learn from others, develop yourself as a disciple-maker.
Now, here are 3 practical ways you can get started in the craft this week:
Your prayer list should include 2 basic sections: 1) What you want God to do in your life and 2) people you’re around that you want to encourage towards Him. Start praying through it daily.
Start inviting people to join you in ministry events you’re already involved in. Did you know that several of the first disciples of Jesus began following him as a result of a simple invitation, not a dramatic gospel presentation? Start inviting people to come and see.
We’ve put together a simple resource called the Disciple-Maker’s Leatherman. It’s a booklet that gives you 21 tools you can use to get started in making disciples. Download a copy of that booklet and begin sharing those tools with anyone that will let you.
God uses those who dedicate themselves! If you start here and keep at it, God will use you to make disciples.
God doesn’t need our help. He wants our hearts. He wants you to see people the way He does, to care about them the way He does, and to join Him in the work He is doing.