Lloyd and I were driving by a village in Ghana once where there had recently drilled a water well for the local community. There were young local children fetching water from the well. The children were pulling together on one rope to get their bucket out, and then came shock – horror! They were fetching the water in a turpentine can!
We lived among this particular people group, and we knew that the container was not washed out with soap and water or bleach or boiling water; it was only rinsed in the local pond until they couldn’t smell the turpentine and then declared it fit for use. This community clearly needed not only to know that clean water was important but they needed to understand what things would contaminate the water and what was necessary for them to avoid introducing contaminates into their drinking water. They needed to know that if contaminates were introduced – this water would bring death and not life.
There is a tendency in the Western world to believe that once we have shared the truth of the gospel with people and they have confessed that they believe – we have done our part. But I am a witness that what you leave behind is a person that believes the truth, but has no idea what the truth is, or what to do with that truth. They twist it to fit their circumstance, they ignore the parts that they cannot easily understand, some rise to a position of leadership and then exploit the little that they know to their own benefit – – some minister an adulterated gospel and taint the water for entire congregations! What is the answer??? The answer is to teach the complete gospel. That means that we go beyond salvation – and take people to the entire truth of the gospel.
We have to teach people to study the word of God so that they can come to know the person of God. If they can’t read the Word, we have to be willing to give the time and resources necessary to teach them how to interact with The Word; audio Bibles, simpler translations, etc. After teaching them to read the word or to listen to the word, we must teach them to interact in the word in such a way that it becomes something that they can apply to their life! When we equip them with these tools – they will know what the truth looks like and are less likely to fall prey to any contaminated word. When we equip them with these tools then we are preparing them to protect the word that is taking root in their hearts. When we equip them with these tools – we ensure that the word will bring them to the abundant life that God has planned for them.
But 🙃 – THIS. TAKES. TIME!! And, be honest, how many of us are willing to give our precious time to another?? I can tell you as one who lives a life of discipleship, that it is a 24 hour a day commitment. The women that I disciple call me whenever they need to, they visit whenever they need to, they invite me to delve into places in their lives that I don’t want to go! And I am also a witness – that you might have an 8 week program – but I have yet to disciple a new Christian in only 8 weeks! Discipleship is life on life – LIFE on LIFE!! It means (here I go again!) loving someone as much as you love yourself. Would you drink tainted water willingly?! I think not!!
Making disciples is easily defined as: TEACHING PEOPLE THE WORD OF GOD! TOUCHING PEOPLE WITH THE LOVE OF GOD!
Touching them with His love means that we’ll give our lives to them for the sake of His glory.
Interestingly – our Savior’s last words to us were that we should go, preach, teach and make disciples. He really did not say go, preach, teach, and get them saved! We’ve got to be willing to give our whole lives to the purposes and passions of our Savior and King – He wants them to know Him, He wants them to know the Father, He wants them to be filled with the Holy Spirit. In the words of my husband, “time has come to stop dunkin’ ‘em and droppin’ ‘em” – we’ve got to start counting them as so dear to us that we not only give them the gospel but our very lives. (1 Thess 2:8)