“Go into all the nations and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Are we inviting people into a lifelong journey of following Christ or offering them a ticket into eternity? The decisions made by adults, young children or young adults to say a prayer of penance often leaves them with the impression that there is nothing more to being a Christian. In this, we have failed to communicate the message of grace and hope that Jesus brought. It’s not that we simply need to explain better what people are committing to, we need to do a better job of making disciples instead of converts.
Take Jesus’ example: He came alongside twelve men for three years, using every part of life to impart on them the way they are called to live. He taught through his life, the community around them and the environments they were in whether city or rural. Jesus called people to “follow Him” literally, where He went as well as how he lived. Today, our call as disciples is much the same: to walk as Jesus did, teaching those around us through our life and situation how to be followers of Jesus.
There’s nothing wrong with encouraging a commitment, but that commitment is a springboard into a life of following Christ; it’s not the final moment. Unfortunately our society, in pushing for decisions, has encouraged neglect of a new believer once they have made a decision and leaves a hungry child starving for the pure milk of the Word. As believers, we have been commissioned to “disciple” those we are doing life with. We ought never to assume that our job is over because they have made a commitment through prayer. That person is an infant of faith. What would happen to a newborn child if they were left to fend for themselves immediately after entering this world? What were the purposes of Paul’s letters if not to disciple the churches of Galatia, Ephesus, Corinth and so on? He did not simply leave them with the message of hope, he discipled them. True, you may not have opportunity to disciple all whom you are privileged to introduce to Christ, but in sharing the gospel, communicate that this decision is one to follow Christ for the rest of their life; introduce them to a “full life” in Christ, one that comes through being discipled and grown in one’s faith. Do not leave them to starve for faith and hope. Upon introducing someone to faith, give him or her the tools to continue in their faith and become a disciple of Jesus Christ.
- ▼ 2009 (12)
- ► 2008 (14)