Whoa…Now that’s Deep!Posted: June 26, 2012
There are moments in our lives where we experience “paradigm shifts.” I heard someone call this “paradigm shift” a change of thinking about what is normal.
I have been in full-time Christian Ministry for over 13 years. The emphasis of my training in full-time ministry over the years has been in discipleship; helping “other Christians” grow and mature into the image of Christ so that they may disciple others in following Jesus Christ. I understood discipling others through the lens of those who have chosen to follow Jesus. How can you disciple someone in the things of Jesus Christ and they have not trusted their lives to Him, right?
But my paradigm about when discipleship begins began to change when one of the founders of the ministry I worked for came to talk to our staff several years ago. He asked us an interesting question, “When did the Apostle Peter become a disciple of Jesus?” Several responded, “It was when He first met Jesus.” Others responded, “It was probably when Peter saw Jesus transfigured before his eyes.” Some said, “Probably when Peter received the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts.” Then Curtis Tanner gave a shocking and unexpected answer, “The Bible doesn’t say when he became a follower.”
The point he was trying to drive home was that we don’t disciple Christians only; disciple anyone who is hungry for Christ and let the Lord convert them in His timing!
Whoa…now that’s deep! What a paradigm shift for me!
Lately, I have been listening to Dr. Carl Ellis, Jr. “my seminary in Urban Ministry from a distance,” and he says some similar things about discipleship. In his message, “Discipleship of Urban Men,” Ellis says, “Discipleship doesn’t start at conversion. Discipleship starts when we first engage someone through practical encounters, conversation, or planting nuggets of truth from the Bible in their conscience.” He also shared the difference between a disciple and a convert by saying, “A disciple is one who is in the “process of learning” to obey all things Christ commanded and a convert is one who has surrendered his allegiance to Jesus Christ as Lord.”
He went on to say, “The problem we have today is that we are trying to make converts instead of disciples. “Jesus” makes the converts; “we” are to make disciples.”
This shift in my thinking about discipleship has been both discouraging and encouraging. It’s discouraging because I have passed over discipling many non-Christians because they weren’t “converts” yet. It’s encouraging because I can be free to disciple anyone who is hungry; Christian or non-Christian. I can be free to allow Jesus to make converts whenever He wants to make them. I can allow Jesus to do the “heavy lifting” of changing the eternal soul, while I disciple others in the things He has taught me.
If this paradigm shift is true, then I must get busy in the slow process of discipleship and expect God to change them whenever He wants. I no longer have to get impatient when someone hasn’t decided to be a “committed disciple” the way “I think” a committed disciple should be. Making disciples with joy can be a reality!
I am thankful to God that He would change my “paradigm” in this area of making disciples of Jesus Christ. If I (or anyone) would walk in this paradigm, it would be life transforming!