Disciple-Making Begins with Evangelism
We receive an invitation every day. Maybe hundreds of them. We just don’t think of them as invitations. To us, they are intrusions. Banner adds. Pop-up adds. Unsolicited e-mails or phone calls. Commercials on the radio or television. Newspaper or magazine ads. Movie previews. Billboards. Bumper stickers. Junk mail. And then there are invitations of the more personal nature. Birthday invitations. Wedding invitations. Party invitations. Invitations to coffee or lunch. Invitations to play golf, tennis or ride bikes.
The other day I was in Sam’s shopping when a “sample lady” asked for my arm. I know. Strange request. As I held out my arm (what was I thinking), she squirted some gel on my wrist and began rubbing it around in a vigorous, circular motion as she touted the virtues of the facial cleanser she had just smeared on my arm. As she rubbed it in so vigorously that the hairs on my arm tangled into little knots, she tried to tell me that it was really dirt from my “oily skin” that was clumping off and causing the knots. Needless to say, her invitation to buy this amazing product fell on deaf ears
What’s the last invitation that you said “yes” to, and why did you say “yes?
What is it that makes us say “yes” to anyone or anything? What is it that makes someone say “yes” to Jesus instead of ignoring Him?
The disciple-making journey begins with a simple invitation.
Two disciples of John the Baptist approached Jesus to find out where He was staying, and He replied with an invitation.
“Come and you will see.”
At first glance, His response seems simple enough, but I don’t really think that Jesus was merely inviting these two young men to a location. It’s clear after reading Johns account that Jesus was inviting these young men, Andrew and likely John himself, to a relationship.
“Come and you will see… who I am!”
“Come and you will see… that I am the promised Messiah!”
“Come and you will see… that I am the Savior!”
“Come and you will see… that I am worthy of your full trust!”
“Come and you will see!”
Five simple words. Loaded with meaning! Packed with potential!
How did they respond after spending the rest of the afternoon with Jesus? Andrew ran back to get his brother, Simon Peter, telling him, “Come and see. We have found the Messiah!”
In one way or another, Jesus offered this invitation to people of all kinds throughout His entire ministry.
Throughout the Gospels we see Jesus interacting with and loving all kinds of people:
Jesus loved the Leper
“Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man….” Mark 1:41
Jesus loved the Widow
“When the Lord saw her, His heart went out to her and He said, “Don’t cry.” Luke 7:13
Jesus loved Drunkards and Sinners
“The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners….” Matthew 11:19
Jesus loved the Crowds
“When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36
Jesus loved the Sexually Immoral
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:11
Jesus Loved the Poor
“Truly I tell you,” He said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others.” Luke 21:3
Jesus loved the Wealthy and Powerful
The Rich young Ruler- “Jesus looked at him and loved him….” Mark 10:21
Jesus loved the Children
“Let the little children come to Me….” Matthew 19:14
Jesus loved the Physically Disabled
Blind Bartimaeus- “Jesus had compassion on them….” Matthew 20:34
Jesus loved the People Who Would Reject Him
“As He approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it.” Luke 19:42
Jesus loved the Criminal
Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in paradise.” Luke 23:43
Jesus loved the People Who Killed Him
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34
Jesus was accused of being “a friend of sinners.” Can the same be said about us? Can the same be said about our church?
When Jesus looked out, He saw that the crowds were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd, and He had compassion on them. They were fields ripe for a spiritual harvest. (Matthew 9:35-38)
If we’re going to be like Jesus and build ministries modeled after Jesus, we have to prioritize spiritually lost people. We have to be a friend of sinners. And the model from Jesus is simple.
1. BE where they are.
Jesus went where the crowds were, “throughout their towns and villages.”
2. SEE who they are.
Jesus saw beyond the facade to the real needs they had. He saw them as “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
“Sheep without a shepherd” is a clear description of someone who is spiritually lost.
3. FEEL what God feels.
Jesus had compassion on them. His heart broke for them. His compassion led to action.
4. MOVE when God moves.
Jesus first modeled ministry, teaching, preaching and healing every disease and sickness.
Then Jesus prayed for His harvest workers and sent the Twelve out to preach, heal and deliver.
Jesus makes the same invitation today that He made to Andrew and John almost 2000 years ago. “Come and see.” Only today, He has chosen to work through you and me to make that invitation. We are sent into the harvest as His ambassadors. We are sent into the harvest as fishers of men. We are sent into the harvest as His witnesses.
The disciple-making process begins with spiritually lost people. I’ve often said, “Any discipleship that doesn’t begin with evangelism and end with evangelism isn’t biblical discipleship.” Building relationships with spiritually lost people and inviting them to “come and see” the real Jesus is the beginning of the 4 Chair Discipling journey.
For Further Consideration
1. Who are the spiritually lost people that would consider me their friend?
2. Are their people Jesus sees but I ignore? What would it look like for me to really SEE people the way God sees them?
3. How does my ministry prioritize spiritually lost people? (teaching, programming, etc.)