This morning we going to be talking about living our faith in a way that makes our faith obvious to those around us. St. Francis of Assisi once said, “Preach the Gospel always, when necessary, use words.”
This message is based on Matthew 28:18-20.
This morning we going to be talking about living our faith in a way that makes our faith obvious to those around us. St. Francis of Assisi once said, “Preach the Gospel always, when necessary, use words.” What he means by that is that our lives should point people to Christ. As people see us in the day to day things, they should see the difference Christ makes in our lives. That doesn’t mean that we never have to use words, but others should see enough of a difference in how we live our lives that they should be curious.
Living this kind of life makes sharing our faith much easier. And, as we saw in our reading this morning, sharing our faith is necessary. If we never share our faith, we can’t follow Jesus, because the Bible says we have to share our faith, and we saw in our reading this morning, we have to make disciples. This is actually where we’ll spend most of our time this morning, the idea of making disciples.
So today we’re talking about Discipleship. Are you involved in discipleship? Probably, when I ask that question, the first thing that comes to mind is, “What is discipleship?” I think there are a lot of different definitions for this word. There are several ideas as to what it might mean. Essentially, a disciple is a follower of someone else. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are all his disciples. So in our reading this morning, when it says, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations”, it means to make people followers of Jesus.
There are two elements to this. First is to share your faith, so that others will hear about the importance you place on your faith, and they will watch you as you live your faith, and see the difference that faith has made in your life, and they’ll begin to want that for their lives also. That’s the first part, and it’s a real important part. If they look at your life, and it’s no different than their lives, then why would they want what you have? Truth is, if you’re living your faith in a way others can see, then it’s making a difference. And they’ll notice that difference.
But there is another element to discipleship that’s just as important, or maybe even more important. The disciple studies the person he is following. A disciple of science studies science, he reads about science, he listens to other scientists, he tries to master the field of science. A disciple of Christ also needs to study. We need to learn all we can learn about Jesus. We need to read Scripture, because that’s where we find the majority of the history of Jesus. We need to read other’s books about Jesus, we need to pray, speaking to Jesus directly. We need to become as knowledgeable as we can about the things of Jesus.
I think that there are three parts to this element of discipleship. First, we study Jesus to learn as much as we can. We can’t be a disciple of someone we don’t know. We just talked about the importance of this, and a little bit about how we go about this. Commit your life to learning everything that can be learned about Jesus.
The second part of this is to help others learn as much as they can. This can be a formal setting, meeting with a new member or a new believer and helping them understand more about their new faith. I meet with a couple people like this fairly regularly. Sometimes we read scripture together and talk about what’s going on in their life, and how their new faith should be reflected in these things. We sometimes do Bible Studies or Book Studies.
Or it can be very informal. Sharing your opinions in a Bible Study or a small group is a way to help disciple others. Sunday School Classes bring opportunities to disciple others. Service projects here at the church put us in contact with new or younger believers that we can share with and help them understand their faith a little better.
Informal mentoring is a great way – just spend time with others and let them see how you respond to different things, how you respond when you’re stressed, when things go wrong – and how you respond when good things happen. Essentially the idea here is found in 1 Corinthians 11, which says, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” It’s to model a life of faith for people, and to teach them as they try to live their lives of faith.
The last part of discipleship involves making other disciples, which we’ve already mentioned, but I want to get a little deeper with it now. This involves evangelism, and for many of us, evangelism is a scary thing, so we try to avoid it. But the reading was pretty clear that we should be doing it, “go and make disciples of all nations…” Not all of us are going to go to other nations, but all of us should be involved in making disciples.
I want to reassure you that while it might sound scary, it doesn’t have to be scary thing. It just means sharing our faith and encouraging others to come to faith as well, by letting them see the difference that faith has made for us. We’ve already mentioned that if you live your faith on a daily basis, others will notice your faith. If you are striving to be like Christ-like in all that you do, you will stick out from the rest of society pretty clearly.
I don’t want to make light of sharing our faith with others, this third part, because we need to be doing it, but today, I want to concentrate on the first part, Being good disciples. And in looking at this, I want to try to just answer one question: What is a good disciple?
To find the answer to that, I want to look at Psalm 15. If you have a Bible, you might want to turn Psalm 15 and follow this. I’ll go kind of quickly, but I see 12 principles of committed disciples that we can see in Psalm 15. Let’s read it through quickly…
The Psalm starts out with a question of God, “Who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?” If we know our Bible, we would say that only a committed disciple of Jesus may live in God’s sanctuary. The rest of this Psalm seeks to answer that question, to describe what a committed disciple would be like.
The Psalm ends by saying that He who does these things will never be shaken. I would add that he who does these things will be a committed disciple, because he has become like Christ. That’s the goal, to be transformed into the likeness of Christ. That’s what being a disciple is all about.
In closing, let me just give a word of warning. These 12 principles of being a committed disciple speak to how we live our lives of faith. It’s not enough to just know the right words. Karl Barth once said, “The Word became flesh--and then through theologians it became words again.” Don’t let that happen. The world doesn’t need more words – it needs real, genuine disciples. People don’t really care what you say, it’s what you do that they’re looking at. That’s the real test of a disciple. A real, genuine disciple lives his faith. To make discipleship one of your core values, you need to live your faith.
I would love hear what you think - please leave a comment!