Our church’s purpose statement (which, if you are part of our church family, I hope you can quote without looking) is “…helping people follow Jesus together.” It’s our version of Jesus’ command to his church to “go and make disciples.” And when he said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men,” he was telling us something about what a disciple is: a disciple follows Jesus, is being transformed by Jesus (I will make you), and is on mission with Jesus. A disciple of Jesus makes him the first priority. Helping each other and helping others who are not yet a part of us become that is what we are to be about!
Last week a few of us were privileged to attend a small conference about how to develop a culture of making disciples in our church; how to imbed disciple-making into the very DNA of our church family. You’ll be hearing more about that over the next months, years, and, hopefully, decades.
I want to pass on to you one story we heard about a young man who exemplified the priority Jesus held in his life:
THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE UNASHAMED
Doctor Robert Morehead tells the story of a young man from Rwanda who was forced by his tribe in 1980 to renounce Christ or face death. He refused to renounce Christ, and he was murdered on the spot. The night before, he had written the following commitment, which was found in his room.
“I am a part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have the Holy Spirit power. The dye has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure. I am finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tame visions, mundane talking, chintsey giving, and dwarfed goals.
“I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by presence, learn by faith, love by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power.
“My pace is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven. My road is narrow, my way is rough, companions few, my guide is reliable, my mission is clear.
“I cannot be bought, compromised, deterred, lured away, turned back, diluted, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.
“I won't give up, back up, let up, or shut up until I've preached up, prayed up, paid up, stored up, and stayed up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I must go until he returns, give until I drop, preach until all know, and work until he comes.
“And when he comes to get his own, he will have no problem recognizing me. My colors will be clear for. ‘I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.'"
Being a disciple of Jesus, following him, is no easy journey. But if he really is who the Bible says he is, then it is a journey we must take and take together, helping each other follow him as our first priority.