11th Jul 2005

Posted in

Blog :: Keeping the great commission

I've been meaning to say this for some time now. In fact in my last post on christianity I meant to say this and took a detour.

Most churches do not intend to keep the great comission.

Matt 28 says

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen

I am indebted to Dallas Willard, particularly, for this thought but the observation is not a new one nor is it unique to him.  Christians in general and especially through our institutional voices (Churches, denominations, para-church ministries, etc) do not have a particularly good handle on what it might mean to be a disciple and even less of a clue as to how to make disciples.  One blogger I've been reading lately calls our typical attitudes towards discipleship the "Twentieth Century Two Step".  As Brad explains, the Alcoholics Anonymous program has 12 steps.  "Two Stepping It", in the AA context is when alcoholics join AA, complete steps one and two (admit your own powerlessness and believe in ability of higher power to save you), then jump straight to the end ("Having had a Spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others").  The point for Christians is not so much that you should not evangelize untill you have reached some indeterminate point in your Christian walk, but that the process of sanctification should not be skipped over.

What would it mean to be "teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you"?  I would suggest among other things it would mean dealing seriously with the Sermon on the Mount as a manual of discipleship.  Disciples of Jesus should be wrestling with the presence of the Kingdom, would be conquering Anger and Contempt, Lust, Deceitfulness, and would be learning to love and bless their enemies (Matt 5).

Not only are many Christians not wrestling with these issues from a intentional discipleship perspective, many Churches have no intention of asking them to do so.  Many churches are in fact two stepping it; asking only that their converts admit their own sinfulness (step 1) and believe in Jesus' righteous act for their salvation (step 2) and that they tell others.  The shallowness in the american Church that I have complained about before is a direct result of this theological and institutional perspective.


Posted on Jul 11th 2005, 12:11 AM