Why Make Disciples?

When we’re told to make disciples, to share our lives and the gospel with other people, very often objections spring to mind. Here are three possible objections to why you might not be making disciples, followed by two reasons to make disciples.

Objection #1: I don’t have time. To this objection, Jesus would say: “How can you not have time?” This is why I gave you the gospel, to multiply disciples. Remember my parting words before I ascended to heaven to pray for you, the Great Commission? “Go therefore and make disciples, teaching them to obey all I have commanded” (Matt 28:19)? How can you not have time to share my words, the greatest news on earth, with your family, friends, and neighbors?

The truth is, we all have time to disciple others. The obstacle to making disciples isn’t time; it is our values. We simply value something else more than we value making disciples. We may value our independence, our convenience, our comfort, or our work more than we value sharing our lives and the gospel with others. It’s not that we don’t have time; it’s that we don’t have the value for making discples.

Objection #2: I don’t know enough. That simply isn’t true. Most Americans have more theological education than most Christians in the world, and yet African and Asian Christians are multiplying disciples rapidly. Moreover, discipleship isn’t knowledge-based; it’s gospel and life based. Don’t put your faith in knowledge; put your faith in the gospel, which bears fruit when we share it and share our lives. Share the gospel with others by sharing how the gospel has changed you. Tell your story of redemption. Testify to the power of Christ in forgiving your past, present and future sin. Disclose the reckless love of Christ in dying your deserved death, so that you could receive an undeserved life. If you know the gospel, you know enough. If you have a story of redemption, you have a story to tell! There are people in your neighborhood, workplace, and church that need you. More importantly, they need Christ. It’s not that you don’t know enough. If you know Jesus, then you know more than enough!

Objection #3: I don’t want to. Two brief responses. First, your wants need to change. You are too easily satisfied. Pause, search your heart, and inquire what you want more than Christ. What is it that is so important, that it is worth denying others the opportunity to hear the greatest news on earth? Confess that to your merciful Master, and ask for a changed heart.

Second, you need more to boast in. Paul writes: “But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face…For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy” (1 Thess 2:17–20).

Make Disciples Because it Makes You Happy Why did Paul make disciples? Hope, joy, and pride. Notice that his motivation comes from looking to the future. He has a hope for when he stands before the Lord Jesus at his coming. What is his hope? His hope is his joy and crown. He’s looking forward to the day he stands before Christ, and hoping to say to Jesus: “Here’s what I have for you—my joy and my crown—my disciples, Lord. They are my ‘pride and joy.’” Here is best of the best I can give. They are my glory, the greatest gift I could give to my King. What’s your pride and joy? A book, record, or movie collection? Your academic or sporting achievements? Your home, car, or clothes? Is that really what you want to parade before King Jesus when he comes back? “Look I was faithful, I have a great DVD collection.”

Does your pride and joy motivate you to make disciples? Paul had found a deeper motivation than duty in making disciples. The reason he made disciples is because they were his pride and joy. Watching my daughter take her first breath was amazing. I was filled with pride and joy as she entered the world—a Dodson. As she bore our resemblance, and entered our family, she beamed (and screamed) with life! Radiant with our image, she evoked tears of joy and swells of pride. Watching others take their first spiritual breath also brings pride and joy. Watching my children grow into walking, talking, drawing, reasoning, dancing, loving people brings me so much joy, and so does watching disciples grow into the image of Christ.

As disciples take in the gospel and exhale Christlikeness, pride swells, not in our own efforts, but in who they have become. A Christian, a little Christlike person! Joy bursts through the heart, when you witness their first steps of obedience. The pride and joy of watching men and women become disciples of Jesus is unmatched. Disciples remind us of the enduring value of the gospel, bringing us joy before the Lord. Make disciples because it makes you happy.

Make Disciples Because it Makes You Proud Pride and joy you say? Isn’t pride a sin? Not necessarily. Pride and joy can actually fit together in a holy way. Think about it. Have you ever witnessed disinterested, joyless boasting. Have you ever seen a basketball player boast their championship win with a frown on their face? Do people begrudgingly boast in their unique collection? No, they actually take so much joy in them that it overflows in happy boasting. They show off the rare records, parade the unique collection, brandish the championship ring because deep joy overflows in pride. Joy can overflow in holy pride.

Holy pride is a deep delight in what God has done, not in what you have done. This holy pride emerges when you witness the transformation of a disciple. You know you aren’t the ultimate cause, but you get a front row seat to their change as God works. You brandish grace in their life. You lift up Christ. Deep joy over flows in holy pride when we make disciples. Time, knowledge, and desire will bound forth when we see that making disciples is our pride and joy before King Jesus. This is precisely why Paul can say of his disciples: “you are my glory and my joy.” Make disciples because it brings deep joy that overflows in holy pride before King Jesus.