“…whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” 1 John 2:6
Jesus was a Jewish rabbi. He taught at synagogues, but he also had a following of people who literally walked with Him. They traveled and taught together walking roads together. They ate together. They sat at His feet, until He washed theirs and proceeded to die as the atonement for our sins so He could send His Spirit to dwell inside us and teach us. What does this mean for us? To make disciples of Jesus we must be walking as He walked. But we do not live in Galilee. He is not physically coming up to us and asking us to drop our work and physically walk beside Him, following Him around. But it’s a lot more literal than you might think.
If you are a real disciple, you will be asked to leave something. Beware those who would theologize this into just a figurative leaving. Jesus is not only calling us to a leaving behind of sin at your confession of faith, but a leaving of your self-interest, a leaving of your own security, a leaving of your own safety and legacy SO THAT you can follow Him. Often times, this will mean a leaving of your position, your career, your home, your land, and your belongings in order to focus on your new “real” job, which is seeking the Kingdom and discipling the nations. You may have to leave your family, for ministry purposes (only for a set time), or in some contexts you may be disowned by your family for believing in Christ. (Caveat: You would never leave your spouse and children because they have rejected Jesus, rather you would faithfully stay and serve them in love as long as they are willing to stay…1 Corinthians 7:14; 1 Peter 3:1–6.) The point is…even modern-day discipleship often still requires a physical or situational moving and leaving behind.
While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. Matthew 4:18-22
As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. Matthew 9:9
When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Luke 18:22
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23
Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. Matthew 19:27-29
It is a leaving of “normal” work as a “normal” person may do it, IN ORDER TO enter into the truly normal supernatural labor for the kingdom (even while you are doing other things). If you say you follow Jesus, but you are spending your days on your own work or your company’s work and not His work, you are fooling yourself. This is about what you see as your work, your vocation. I am here to propose to you that your vocation and profession should be one in the same, to proclaim the truth of the message of Jesus out of a connected, passionate, obedient relationship with the Lord.
What have you physically left behind in order to preach the gospel? What relationships have turned difficult because of your obedience to Christ? What work-related tasks have you intentionally dropped to make room for His work of healing and setting captives free? If you are a boss, what have you released others from doing so that they can lead others to encounter Jesus? Because the reality is that human work will fill your days with busyness. But God requires your total attention and time so that you are abiding with Jesus, walking out your days as His delegate. That is your real job as a Christian. Literally. Your job is the kingdom, no matter where you work.
Everything else is just placement-where you are being given access by God to minister. God uses people in secular spaces all the time. In actuality, you can boldly preach Christ in any job, in any town, in any career. But we hold our placement loosely. Bold proclamation will lead to persecution in some spaces. If your boss or human authority does not like you speaking about Jesus there, you are not to hold your tongue, even when told that you may lose your job if you continue speaking or praying. You are not to be quiet. You are to “flee to another town” and preach boldly there. There’s no biblical evidence or support for secret churches or secret Christians.
If you are a real disciple, you will make peace. This means you will take your place in a kingdom of priests who live holy before the Lord and draw others to peace with God (Revelation 1:6). This does not mean that we give an assurance of forgiveness to ignorant people who do not know Jesus. It means that we bring people into relationship with Jesus through repentance and baptism by the Spirit of God at work in their hearts, so they can know God for themselves! This also does not mean that we will make it our purpose to avoid confrontation and be quiet about the gospel so no one gets angry at us. While generally we should not be troublemakers, and we should make every effort to live at peace with other believers (Hebrews 12:14), and live peacefully in our communities, not causing civil or empty arguments (Romans 13:1, 2 Timothy 2:23), we should not be ashamed or quiet about the gospel. Quite the opposite. And this will lead to a sword between father and brother and neighbor at times. A man’s enemies will be the members of his or her own household, even! (Matthew 10:34-39) But this is the sword of the Spirit making the cut with the truth of Christ, not our pride or arrogance, or political persuasion, or selfishness. If we prioritize our safety, communal peace or political peace over sharing the truth of the gospel boldly, we do a radical injustice to Christ.
Did you know that God has made you a capable mediator of the New Covenant because you have the Holy Spirit? This means you can make peace between God and man. You are a peacemaker as the extension of Christ in the world. How do you do this? You listen with empathy and you take people to the feet of Jesus with you.
He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:6
If you are a real disciple of Jesus you will be preaching the gospel, not out of obligation, but out of FIRE and love for Jesus! And the ones we are discipling will be preaching the gospel too from that same place. Men and women who are filled with the Holy Spirit will preach. When Jesus says take my yoke on me and learn of me for my yoke is easy and my burden is light, what He also means is that you will just be able to say what He is saying in the moment. Because you know Him and you hear Him, you will not feel the pressure of “sharing your faith.” It will be something you WANT to do. You will be compelled. Nothing will keep you from it in your ordinary conversations. Fear is put to death by obedience in proclamation of the gospel. If you are a disciple you will be preaching.
Many times if I am preaching in public, I will just read scripture. If I am preaching in a conference, I will give a teaching based on scripture. If I am preaching to my kids, I will speak scripture I have in my heart already or read from Bible Story books. We find creative ways to proclaim the work of God in art, in music, in books, poetry, gifts, and in service.
We proclaim the goodness of God by loving one another in very real ways ACCOMPANIED by an explanation of the source of your love as Jesus. If you just make a meal for someone but take the credit as a nice person, you’ve stolen glory from God. You give in the name of Jesus, as His distributor (Luke 9:48). And so when we give, we say, “it’s because Jesus loves you that it is my honor to do this for you.” We give to others as a means of speaking the gospel to them in our actions and actual words. As you give a gift, you can share the gospel because you are responsible for giving as a representative or delegate of Christ.
And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Colossians 3:17
If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 2 Corinthians 5:13-15
Heal, Restore and Raise from the Dead
If you are a real disciple, you will be an extension of healing. Again, do not take this as simply figurative. The Holy Spirit fills you so that you can actually bring literal emotional, psychological, spiritual, and physical healing and wholeness to those around you. In obedience to Jesus, we heal the sick and cast out demons and raise the dead.
And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Matthew 10:7-8
You have never seen this happen? Many people in this world have never seen the ocean, but only a fool would say “the ocean doesn’t exist because I have never experienced it.” Goodness. Go to the ocean! Go and find people operating in the power of the Holy Spirit and see what God is doing. In our little world in the last three years, I can personally document five physical healings, literally hundreds of emotional healings through the Spirit’s work in prayer and worship, and two people set free from demonization. This is not fictional guys. God is moving in His people. While there are a lot of fakes out there, there is a LOT of real. And God will show you who needs prayer if you start walking in availability and listening for His Spirit.
- Me: Hi. I know we don’t know each other but is there any way I can pray for you?
- Someone: Um…Yeah I guess, sure…I have a brother who was just diagnosed with cancer and I am just really torn up.
- Me: Oh I am so sorry. Can we pray together now for His healing? (we pray right in the middle of Target, or in the hall…sometimes I give them my phone number to update me and I get theirs to check on them)
If you are a real disciple, you will baptize the people you lead to faith Christ. Why on earth would you refer that honor away to someone else just because you’ve never baptized anyone? It’s not difficult. There is nothing in the Bible that says you need special authority to baptize someone both in terms of a water baptism of repentance and a spirit baptism of fire in the authority of Jesus as prophesied in the prophets and by John the baptist (Joel 2, Luke 3:15-18). Better yet, ask someone you are discipling to baptize a new believer, so they can learn how. The only requirement is that you cannot give what you have not received, so whoever baptizes needs to have actually experienced repentance and turning from sin, and the fire of the Spirit.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38
According to the model we see in Acts, both the baptism of repentance (water) and spirit baptism (fire) are meant to happen to a believer at the same time, though not everyone has heard of the baptism of fire. (Acts 19:1-6)
- Me: You’ve just made a real decision to trust Jesus. Would you like to be baptized?
- Someone: Sure, how do I do that?
- Me: We can do it in your bathtub or in a pool, or a lake, or a river you pick! But Jesus says it is a symbol of your death to self and coming alive in Him. And He wants to fill you with the Holy Spirit who will give you a new heart and the power you need to follow Jesus for yourself and teach others to follow Him.
Baptism is not just a ritual, it should be a moment where the person declares self-death and the Holy Spirit power of God fills a person (in Acts, this was often through the laying on of hands from people who were filled already).
Make Disciples who follow Jesus (out of your own relationship with the Father)
If you are a real disciple, you will be making disciples. You need to be getting stuff from the Father and giving that teaching to others in plain conversation. This means time. You have to spend time sitting at the feet of Jesus in order to have the strength, direction, and fresh flow of the Spirit you need to make disciples that day. Let me give you an example of how this works for me.
- Someone: Hey, how are you doing?
- Me: Man. I’m good, Jesus is teaching me so much right now about righteousness.
- Someone: Oh really?
- Me: Yeah…did you know Jesus actually said our righteousness must surpass that of the Pharisees. So I have been thinking a lot about how we are actually expected to literally obey His commands, not just see them as unreachable goals or ideal ethics or figures of speech. Maybe I could show you where it is in scripture if you have a minute sometime. It’s really amazing.
- Someone: Sure yeah!
- Me: Ok, I’ll touch base with you about meeting up.
Then I do…And the conversation goes on…you fish for people, full of love and compassion, as led by the Spirit. I will talk to one person about something God showed me three years ago sometimes. Here how that looks sometimes.
- Me: Are you ok? You look like you have a lot on your mind/
- Someone: I do have a lot on my mind.
- Me: What’s going on?
- Someone: I am just really experiencing anxiety.
- Me: Oh man. I have walked that road. You want to know what Jesus taught me? It was about sitting at His feet. Do you know that story from scripture?
- Someone: No I don’t think so.
- Me: OK, let’s make time to really sit down together and I’ll show you. It’s amazing the freedom He led me into. (then we either talk then and there or make an appointment)
Because here’s the thing. You are not making disciples of your own beliefs. You are making disciples of Jesus. That means they will walk as He walks too. So don’t lead people to follow you, lead them to follow Christ. How? You actually methodically and intentionally teach them how to pray and listen. You teach them the commands of Jesus in the Bible, encourage them to obey them, and teach them how to be led by the Holy Spirit, lining up what they are hearing from the Lord with scripture. You tell them they are forgiven when they fall and teach them how to fight in the Spirit so that they can endure to the end and not shrink back. You tell them to expect persecution and you teach them how to preach the whole gospel as the complete story of God from Genesis to revelation in all its glory. You teach them how to worship as the temple of God in community. You do it together as brothers and sisters. You’re walking with Jesus together.
Modern-day disciples of Jesus are full of love. If you say you love Jesus but you harbor hate, racism, ethnic hatred, or hatred for those with gender identity confusion, you are lying to yourself. Love sees according to the Spirit, so we see people as they are, but also as the glorious ambassadors of God they will be as they walk in the power of Christ. No one is outside the realm of forgiveness. Love accepts people as they are even in their sinful state and then loves them enough to encourage them to pursue surrender, healing, and wholeness. Love forgives everything before you are even asked. Love pursues reconciliation without demanding an apology. Love serves someone who hurt you.
Love does actual work to make life easier for others who cannot do things. It seeks out hurt in order to pour itself out. How has love compelled you to serve lately? And stop beating yourself up if you have not been doing this. Just repent and start doing it. No big deal. The point is not wallowing in what you were hung up on, but quickly moving into obedience when you are convicted. And this conviction is often brushed off by well-meaning people who acknowledge your busy life stage and your right to your own self-care. Guys that is not biblical. Get out there with us and make disciples on the front lines. Bring your kids along. Show them what it means to do the work of the kingdom.
You give others the daily bread you get from Him. This may be your children and spouse, but if you limit your ministry to only your family, you are not obeying Jesus. You are to disciple the nations. This means you are supposed to GO OUT to others who are your co-workers. You are supposed to GO to people who are not even like you. GO to those who do not speak your language. GO to the prisoners. GO to those who do not live near you. GO to those who have never heard and have no way of hearing aside from the miraculous.
We must be loving and healing people in Jesus name. This is walking as He walked.
If you say you follow Jesus but do not preach the gospel, you are lying to yourself and not living a loving life either.
There is a special spiritual gifting of evangelism, but we are all able to testify about what Jesus has done for us because the love of Jesus compels us! Great freedom and overcoming of the enemy comes when we testify. Boldness comes as we obey, not before it. The boldness you think you need has another name: obedience. Most of us do not lack boldness, we lack obedience. Once you start obeying Jesus by making disciples, it’s so joyful nothing will be able to stop you. People will see your boldness and find it unusual and you will just laugh, because now, sharing Christ doesn’t take boldness. It feels like the most natural thing in the world. It just feels like love overflowing out of you.
Have you ever met someone so in love with a person they can’t stop talking about him or her…it’s more like that.
When is the last time you told your story about what Jesus has done for you to an unbeliever? When is the last time you prayed for healing for someone?
Here’s what I have learned. Obedience leads to greater love and love leads to greater obedience.
If/when you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. John 14:15-17
In the same way Jesus live loved and surrendered to the will and agenda of the Father, we live yielded to the projects of the Father, with no additional desires or plans outside of Him to weigh us down. We walk as He walked.
Completely Free. Completely Righteous in Christ. Completely in Love. Completely Available. Completely Obedient. This is life abundant and unrestrained.
So. Much. Joy.