One of the last teachings Jesus shared with the disciples was the Great Commission. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” Matthew 28:19. He wasn’t asking them to go. He did not offer it as a choice. The disciples had studied and lived with Him for 3 years. They witnessed His death and resurrection and truly believed He was the Messiah. They were already on the path!
The work of bringing others to Christ is for all believers, no matter what your earthly occupation or personality. (That includes my fellow introverts, so keep reading 😊)
That command, however, can drive fear into the hearts of even the most committed believers! It reminds me of Moses when God asks him to go to Pharaoh and demand that he let God’s people go. He had excuse after excuse to give God why he could not do what He commanded. God reassured him over and over- He would go with him, give him the words to say.
Moses’s final complaint was that he was “slow of speech and tongue” and could not possibly speak to Pharaoh. God shows great patience, and finally sends Moses’ brother Aaron to help and travel with him.
We’re not that different from Moses. How many times do we make excuses for not “going” when God says go?
Go Make Disciples
The King James version translates “make disciples” as “go and teach” from a Greek word to instruct. So, to make disciples, we teach. That can be helping an unbeliever see what a saving faith in Jesus looks like. Or it may be helping someone with a new or limited knowledge grow in their faith.
Many of us have our “Moses excuses” when it comes to sharing our faith, so let’s grab some encouragement and tools to help us take the baby steps we need to get started!
Thankfully, God can use our strengths and gifts along with His power to help us no matter where He leads.
How Did Jesus Make Disciples?
Jesus gave us this assignment and had His methods recorded for us to model. Granted, He has some important qualities we do not (He is God; He is sinless; He is all-knowing, etc.) But He also shows us how to accomplish this goal.
Luke 6:12 tells us that Jesus spent an entire night praying to His Father before He chose His 12 disciples. We too can pray for opportunities and the conviction to draw others to Him. Incorporate this prayer into your daily prayer requests so that it is a priority in your thoughts. Ask for opportunity, to be a good example, for courage, to overcome obstacles (such as fear) in sharing your faith, and to prepare the hearts of those you will encounter.
#2- Know what and why you believe.
Jesus was fully aware of His mission and was obedient to carry it out.
1 Peter 3:15
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
Practice saying what you want to get across; this takes some of the fear out of the situation. Write it out if that is helpful to you. How did you come to a living faith in Jesus? How does your faith help you in your everyday life? Ask if they would want to know Him as you do. Do you have a life verse? Share it and why it’s meaningful.
#3- It’s all about relationship.
Jesus went to “work” every day with a small group of followers. He lived with them and modeled a life of obedience, sacrificial love, and giving.
Jesus could go one-on-one in His relationships, do small groups, and sizeable crowds. But no matter where He went, He welcomed and invited them into His life.
While some are called out of their communities to make disciples, we all do not receive that call. (Even then, this same relationship principle applies.) We should begin with the people in our own family, and then to the people we see more often- our friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc.
Does your demeanor suggest the love, gentleness, and respect of Jesus?
Last week, we studied the early Christian church and found that their actions were the witness that showed how Jesus had changed their lives. It made their faith attractive to those around them.
Making disciples uses our actions, lifestyle, and words to show others what Jesus is like. It is the best tool we can use for sharing our faith.
Sometimes we hesitate to disciple others and share our faith because we don’t feel mature enough in our faith. Or sometimes we fear being asked a question that we don’t know the answer to. It’s totally fine to say, “I don’t know, but I can find out” or “Let’s learn together.”
God gave us this commission, and He will empower us with the knowledge and words to say. Even Paul, a brilliant scholar of Scripture, confessed to fear and not being able to articulate what he wanted to say!
“I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God… I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power.” 1 Corinthians 2:1,3,4.
Let the Holy Spirit guide you and speak through you. Don’t let your emotions or fears hold you back.
This is a lifelong work and lifestyle. We must continue in a habit of obedience, learning, growing, and sharing.
Share Your Faith
Sharing your faith doesn’t have to feel awkward or intimidating. Here are some ideas to help you feel more confident about getting started.
You only need a couple sentences to start a conversation. Starting off with “you’re a sinner” probably won’t draw them in. Try “God loves you and has great plans for you” or “God loves you and will bring you the peace you’re looking for” or “Jesus says that whoever believes in Him will have everlasting life in Heaven.” Then pause and wait for responses; listen attentively.
We can share the love of Jesus in little ways. I just read a story where a woman walked into a deli and the woman behind the counter commented about how she was smiling. Smiling customers were not common, she said. The woman’s response: “I told her I was smiling because God has been good to me.”¹
Always be yourself and genuinely caring in your conversations. Let them know you are not there to judge. When you hear “no”, you can always gently ask what is holding them back. If someone becomes argumentative, wish them well and leave with a “God bless you.”
Also, remember that it is not up to us to convert someone to a saving faith. That is the Holy Spirit’s job.
Do you trust Him to take your efforts and use them to complete His plan?
Creative Ways to Share the Gospel
Here are some questions to ask and creative ways to share your faith.
•A good conversation starter is to ask, “Did you grow up in a church?” This can lead to many avenues of faith conversations and invitations to check out/attend your church. Or “when you get to heaven, who do you want to see there?” This leads to the topic of how you get to heaven in the first place.
•Performing acts of service are great opportunities to share with others.
•When someone shares a story of a problem that they are experiencing, ask them, “Can I pray for you?” Pray with them immediately, and if possible, keep in touch with them.
•Use faith statements in conversation: mention going to church when discussing plans, say that you are/were “blessed” by a circumstance or relationship, give God the glory for things in your life (healing, wisdom, guidance, etc.), recount answers to prayer.
•Use the trials and difficult times in your life to tell others how your relationship with Jesus comforts, guides, and cares for you.
Living the Fruits of the Spirit
•Let your words and actions show the Fruits of the Spirit. Choose one to focus on each day and express it in your reactions to those you encounter.
•Wear clothing or jewelry that expresses your faith. Besides being a reminder to ourselves whose we are, it can help you shine His light without saying a word. It can also be a conversation starter about your personal faith.
•Even your home décor can be a witness. We’ve had name plaques with Bible verses on them for each member of our family in our foyer for years. There isn’t a repairman or visitor that hasn’t seen them and people do comment on them!
•Does your social media reflect your faith? It’s so easy to share encouraging messages by hitting the share button from another Christian page to your own, posting a Bible verse or Christian quote that is meaningful to you, or talking about “God-moments”/inspiration that comes your way.
•Invite someone to do a Bible study with you. There are tons of free Bible studies online (I even have a simple one about the book of James) that you can access in my Resource Library. It can be a one-on-one, or with a group of friends, coworkers, neighbors, etc.
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Dealing with Rejection Biblically
So- you prepare, pray, and use His courage to reach out- and they soundly reject the message. There’s no way around it- it’s painful. No one likes rejection of any kind, but to be honest, we need to expect it. Then, if/when it happens, our preparation helps us know how to deal with it.
Remember- they are not rejecting you, they are rejecting Jesus and His message. We don’t know their hearts, but this may be just an initial reaction. Think of it as planting seeds that may produce fruit later. Don’t take it personally or become angry, embarrassed, or discouraged.
Even Paul and Barnabas had to deal with abusive crowds and persecution on their very first missionary journey! They “shook the dust from their feet in protest” (a common symbol of cleansing from those who rejected God) and left filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. (Acts 13:51) What was their source of joy in rejection?
Their motivation for sharing the Good News was not personal success but obedience in preaching the message of the Gospel. The people’s response did not decide their success.
They had been obedient and were moving on to continue their mission. We can still show the love of Jesus by respecting their freedom to choose. That act alone may cause them to seek us out again!
Jesus was Rejected
“He came to his own people, and even they rejected him.” John 1:11.
Some family members, his hometown, some followers, entire cities, and intelligent religious leaders soundly and frequently rejected Him. He understands firsthand what rejection felt like, but that didn’t stop Him!
We can’t control other people’s responses to the Gospel. What we can do is control how we share the message- always in love, sprinkled with the grace and mercy our Lord shows to us.
As You Go, Make Disciples
In Greek, the verb for “go” translates as “going”, as in- you are already on your way. In other words, we are already on the path to eternal life ourselves and are to invite others to come with us. When Jesus said to make disciples of “every nation”, that includes, well, everyone! Every tribe, tongue, and nation will be in heaven, standing before the throne (Revelation 7:9) That means every person you see and meet each day is your “mission field.”
Make it your intention to follow this Great Commission and let God use you to further His kingdom. There are so many hurting and lonely people in the world who need the love of God in their lives! You can be that person who leads them onto their path into a beautiful forever with their Creator. God bless you “as you go”!
“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” Romans 10:14-15.
Blessings in the journey!
All Scripture is from the NIV unless specified otherwise.
¹A Heart Full of Hope-https://www.facebook.com/Aheartfullofhope/
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