Disciples. Discipleship. What do these words, these ideas, have to do with the presence of God, specifically, with Jesus’s promise to be “with us” till the end of the age (Matt.28:18-20)? I think the two: Disciple-making and the Presence of Jesus are intimately linked. I am so thankful for the Evangelical Free Church of America, and, the Great Lakes District which I am a part of. This movement of churches unabashedly and enthusiastically remind me/us often, of Jesus’ call to make disciples. Jesus has not called us specifically to build churches, but to make disciples. Hopefully Jesus building the church and our lives of building disciples are compatible, but, we know this isn’t always the case!.
But, I digress. Back to my original question: “What does disciple-making/disciples/discipleship have to do with the Presence of God?” Let me suggest rather briefly, while biblically speaking, we know God is what theologians call “Omnipresent” (See Psalm 139:off; Jer.23:23-24), yet, in powerful and intimate ways, the Presence and Companionship Jesus promises us, is with us as we go, making disciples. That is, Jesus promises us His power, His authority, His Presence as we make disciples. If we are only going about “growing churches”, “doing religious activities”, or, maintaining our programs, etc., but, if we are not making disciples, I’m not sure the promise of Jesus to be “with us” (i.e. empowering us, leading us) applies as He meant it. You see, we need Him desperately to make disciples – followers of Him, who, eventually over time, are becoming like Him.
SO MUCH could be said here, of the “D” word in relationship to how most of us “do church”, but I will spare you further digressions. For now, I offer a few observations and questions relating to God’s Presence, our going to make disciples, by tying it to my upcoming series on Jonah, titled: “Jonah, and our Whale of a Merciful God”. (I know, it’s a bit cheesy, but, you have to admit, a fun series title!) Anyway, here goes . . .
God told Jonah to “GO” (preach to Nineveh) – 1:2
Jonah tries to flee God’s Presence – 1:3 (never a good idea!)
So, now, instead of experiencing the power of God in mission, and, enjoying His fellowship, Jonah experiences God’s power against Him. Any implications for His reticent followers today?! It’s only as Jonah obeys God’s call, that He experiences the power of God to reach the city.
I wonder how much our enjoyment of God, and, the experience of His power that we miss, when we refuse to go and make disciples?