Listen carefully to Jesus’ words: Jesus said,
“Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
(Matthew 4:19) The actual verb in this verse would
be translated, "I will make you to become fishers of
So, can a person call himself/herself a disciple of
Jesus by following and not also allowing Jesus to
transform them into fishers of men? I contend they
can not. Churches are full of people who have
made a decision for Jesus in order to be saved.
After all, who doesn’t want to go to heaven? (And
who doesn’t want fire insurance against hell? I do!)
However, making a decision is not making a
commitment. I believe bringing people to a heart
change is the ultimate goal...not just conversion.
Not just standing up and saying you believe Jesus is
the Son of God. That’s a decision. Great first step.
But that doesn’t mean commitment that can carry
us all the way to a persecuted end being able to
withstand the cultural attack. And you should know
that many disciples of Jesus have just such an
Discipleship must be the goal.
I was recently at a conference where the
speaker (speaking on the issue of discipleship)
said, “Preachers and elders...get rid of every
church program that isn’t making disciples.” That is
a bold statement. It made me run through our list of
ministries, and I don’t think I could say every one
of them is successful making disciples, could you?
One can really sense the radical nature of our
calling to be disciples of Christ when we begin to
hear the difference of being a full disciple of
vs. the gospel of going-to-heaven-when-you-die.
“Follow me” is not the invitation to be saved, it is
the call of the believer to be a disciple. It is no
small decision to follow Jesus. To follow Christ is
to set aside our own goals and pleasures and to
embrace the purposes for which God created us. To
allow Jesus to change us. And then to make the
purposes of Christ our purpose for living another
day.It’s true early followers of Jesus were called
But the Bible never instructs us to make Christians,
not in today’s loose sense of the word.
Come on, 80% of American’s claim to be Christians?
But I’m not buying it. Yes, the Bible calls us
Christians—three times. However, the Bible refers
to followers of Jesus as disciples 270 times.
In 1914, a man named Ernest Shakelton placed
the following words in a newspaper ad: "Men
wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter
cold, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor
and recognition in case of success.”
Would you respond to such an invitation?
Believe it or not, Shakelton had to turn men away.
More than enough men responded that he was
able to set sail for Antarctica with a full crew. It
was a tough journey. The men were stranded and
not rescued until 1917. Why would someone
respond to such an ad? Was it for the "honor and
recognition" that might come? Maybe! Or was it
for the fact that we all want our lives to matter
and count for something bigger than ourselves?
Through the centuries, Christians have
responded to Jesus' call. He said to be His disciple
we must take up our crosses and follow Him. We
do so not for worldly honor, but to hear our Savior
say, "Well done, good and faithful servant.”
I couldn’t be more excited about the new discipleship initiative
we’re unveiling in our church this fall. If you listen carefully,
you can already hear
changes in the terminology I use. That’s right, I’m
evolving (forgive my word use). Starting this fall, we will be
unpacking what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. You are
invited. Our congregation is ready. And we’re all about to take this
journey together. Come join us!
[Ron Otto, Lincoln Christian Church Preaching Minister]