Who has not heard the saying; “Keep it simple stupid?” The acronym KISS has become one known to most of us. But is it true for a disciple of Jesus who wants to help others become followers?
Some years ago I was doing my best to draw another man into the Anglican missionary world that I inhabited. He was a leader of men, and a disciple-maker, but had grown up and been formed in another tradition. We were clearly called to much the same work, and their was a strong pull in both our hearts causing us to consider joining forces. But it did not happen. I set him a challenge he could not fulfill. He could not in good conscience become an Anglican.
I will always remember the day. He said to me: “I had to take a course on the Koran in graduate school, and I found it easier to understand Islam than the complexity of modern “Anglicanism.” My heart sank, and we eventually parted ways. At the time I could not understand what had happened. He was a very bright man, and certainly capable of learning anything he set his mind to. And he has served the Lord faithfully all his life, I have no doubt. But when he tried to understand our Anglican ways, he believed they were taking him away from the simple work Jesus had given him – to make disciples.
Many years have gone by, and today I realize I asked him to embrace what is clearly not the simple truth of gospel ministry. I asked him to embrace, unconsciously, two thousand years of church tradition, and he had already given his life to serving only Jesus. For him, the path I was on seemed a diversion from the clear and simple focus of the Final Command. I now believe he was right.
The Lord of the Church, which is his body, the community of faithful followers, gave very clear first steps to all who would hear his voice. ‘Come to me. Follow me. Learn from me. Keep my word. Obey my commands. Go where I direct you. Do what I tell you. Worship only me.’
Most reading this post will understand that those simple directions eventually require all that is within a man to be conformed to Christ. Body, mind, soul, and strength. Most know that it will be all embracing, and will require great effort, stamina, and mental focus. Depending on the particularity of an individuals call it may even involve great scholastic learning, in order that they rightly convey “the whole counsel of God.” But learning to be a disciple begins with the simplest of steps. If they are learned and lived, the life of a follower will be used of God to change others. There will be more disciples when they die than there were when they began to follow. Only God will know how many more, but there will be more.They will not just bear fruit, they will “bear much fruit.” If you were to sit down tomorrow with another person at a coffee shop, could you help them to begin to be a follower of Jesus? A true disciple?
Next Week: Why Am I Afraid?