When you think about pursuing the disciple-making process, what gets you motivated? What drives you to want to share the good news and introduce people to Christ? Or, another way to think about it: in moments of discouragement, how do you keep going? How do you press on when nothing seems to be working in your endeavor to make disciples?
As an aspiring disciple-maker, these are significant questions. There are many days I don’t want to engage with people and share the Gospel. There are times when I have tried to share the hope of Christ with someone and they totally reject the message and reject me. In those moments, I need somewhere to turn to get back up and persevere in this work.
Recently I have been reflecting on Martin Luther’s legacy, because this year is the 500th anniversary of his posting “The Ninety-Five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences” Luther was an intriguing man in many ways, but his view of God’s authority and God’s Word really challenge me. Basically, he argued that God’s Word is not something that we approach as a theological or philosophical exercise, but we must fall under God’s authority and obey what He has revealed. Essentially, Luther argued that the only motivation for anything we do in life is to obey God’s will as it has been revealed in His Word.
Unfortunately, I have heard so many calls to make disciples or go to the nations to spread the Gospel that looked in any number of places for motivation except in God’s Word. Some appeal to the suffering of people in world and our opportunity to help them in their time of need. Others point to the fact that people are dying all over the world without Christ and being thrust into an eternal hell. Both are good motivations to go, but can they sustain you in times of frustration, discouragement, or even persecution?
One afternoon in Berlin, Germany, I had the opportunity to share the Gospel with a university student at a café near campus. I was sharing the Gospel and it seemed to be going pretty well, until a guy at the next table stood up and began to yell at me. He was ridiculing me for being narrow minded and thinking that everyone needed to believe what I believe. He loudly mocked me in public and people were snickering at their tables as he made a spectacle. Honestly, in that moment, I was tempted to think, “God rain down your judgment on this guy. Shut him up!” How would I respond when the very people I want to share the Gospel with end up ridiculing me? Motivation matters.
In our efforts to make disciples, we must be motivated by God’s unchanging Word. Our circumstances, our joy in disciple making, our desire to make disciples, and even our love for people will change, but God’s Word remains.
We must stand on the commands of God.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19).
We must stand on the promises of God.
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58). “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14).
We must pursue the purposes of God.
“For My name’s sake I defer my anger, for the sake of My praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off… For My own sake, for My own sake, I do it, for how should My name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another” (Isaiah 48:9, 11).
What motivates you to make disciples? How do you press on in moments of discouragement, frustration, or even persecution?
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