By Peter Amsterdam
January 17, 2012
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In speaking about the four elements of being a disciple—Love Him, Live Him, Preach Him, Teach Him—my focus has been on the principles of being an active Christian, a disciple of Christ. The Love Him and Live Him principles have to do with our communion or connection with the Lord, and living the Christian life, as well as how to interact with others. The Preach Him and Teach Him principles have to do with the job Jesus gave to His disciples, the job of participating in the Great Commission.
Within those principles, how you Love Him and how you Live Him are personal matters. Your relationship with God is yours. If you know the principles laid out in the words of Jesus, and throughout the Bible, and you apply those principles—you live them—then you will build a living personal relationship with God. It will be your personal relationship with Him based on applying His words, the principles He put forth for those who choose to follow Him. If you follow the principles He put forth through His teaching and His personal example, then He will show you how to apply those principles in the situations you will come across in your life. The key is that you Love Him, and that you Live Him in the way He shows you to, based on the principles He has given in His Word.
The same holds true for Preaching Him. There’s not only one manner in which to witness to others. God’s call is to preach the Gospel, to share His love and life with others, and that’s part of being a disciple; but where and how and to whom you preach the Gospel depends on where God has you, the life He’s called you to lead, and the people He’s placed in your path.
When Jesus calls, He says, “Follow Me.” A disciple does just that—he follows where the master leads. He leads some to minister to the multitudes, others to their circle of friends and acquaintances. Some He leads to a foreign land, others to their neighborhood, others to their own children. His call is to preach the Gospel in the realm He has called you to. Obedience to that call means reaching those He brings across your path.
The same principles apply to Teaching Him. For some, holding Bible studies with groups of people is a great way to teach, but for others, teaching will be more subtle—perhaps reading a little of God’s Word together with someone, or sharing some verses, or expressing spiritual principles in your own words. It may be teaching your children or your friends’ children. It might be bringing others in to the spiritual fellowship that you are already having with family or friends, and through that, teaching them how to Love Him and Live Him.
A person’s spiritual life is like a journey. The place each person is coming from will be different. The pace at which they travel will be different. The Lord might call you to walk alongside someone for a while, to impart His love and truth and Word and share fellowship. You may be sowing, or watering, helping them toward discipleship, or helping them grow within discipleship if they are at the place on their journey where they are ready to commit more of themselves to God. You’re there to help, to give them counsel when they ask, to share God’s principles with them, to help them understand His Word and ways, to encourage and support, to share your discipleship life journey with them.
Teaching and discipling someone takes time. But when we effectively disciple even one person, it’s time well spent. We may be inclined to view our success in teaching others based on the size of the group we are teaching, but that isn’t necessarily the way it works. I happened to read an article that had an interesting outlook on this, written by Dr. David A. DeWitt:
In ten years, an evangelist reaching 1,000 people a day would reach 3,650,000 people. Someone discipling one person a year, who reproduces that with one other person a year, would reach 1,024 people. In 25 years, an evangelist reaching 1,000 people a day would reach 9,125,000 people. Someone discipling one person a year, who reproduces that with one other person a year, would reach 33,554,432 people.
If you don’t feel you can have a large work, don’t put yourself down. Just do what God has called you to do, and witness to and teach those whom He brings across your path, and you will make a difference.
Francis of Assisi said, “It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.” My hope is that reading about the four elements that Jesus taught His disciples about—Love Him, Live Him, Preach Him, and Teach Him—has served as a reminder of the principles Jesus has called us to live our lives by, so that our walking will be our preaching. Our strength and our motivation for sharing Him starts with our Loving Him, our being connected to Him. Then because we are Loving Him, we will also be Living Him, and others will feel Him through us. When they do, we can then Preach Him and Teach Him, because they will be interested and will want to know what we know and have what we have, which opens the door to giving them Jesus.
In bringing out some of the principles of being a fruitful Christian, an adherent of the teachings of Jesus, I want to highlight the concept of living Christianity—not according to rules and regulations, but according to the guiding principles of the Gospel.
How you live your life, how you project Jesus, how you Love Him, Live Him, Preach Him, and Teach Him, will make a difference in how the Great Commission is accomplished in your neighborhood, city, province, or country.
We’ve been talking about the individual, about you—what it means to be a disciple, what Jesus expects of His disciples based on His own words. He said those things to His original disciples, and throughout the 2,000+ years of Christian history He has said them over and over again through the Bible to all Christians, to all disciples, to all those He has called to follow Him. Yet it’s an individual call—His call to you.
The ability of the Christian to witness, to live the life of a disciple, to preach Jesus, to teach Him, comes from doing those things that God has called disciples to do. It starts with the individual—the individual loving Him and living His principles, and then also having the conviction, the drive, the desire to witness, to win, to preach, to teach. Every one of us has some opportunity, some network, some realm in which we can be connecting with others and strengthening their faith, their hope, their spirits, through living our discipleship and bringing discipleship principles into our relationships. The effectiveness of an individual disciple does not depend on the size of the church to which he or she belongs, or the number of people that the individual or church is able to minister to; it depends on the individual ministering to those the Lord brings across their path.
Of course, it’s much easier to progress in mission work, in teaching Him and preaching Him, if you have a body of believers around you who are working with you, or at least if you have people whom you are able to have spiritual fellowship with. That is important.
For one, being part of a community, a fellowship, a body of believers, gives you strength and resources as an individual that empower you as you engage in the mission. Disciples need spiritual fellowship. Praying together, connecting with the Lord together as a body, whether the group is small or large, is something that individuals who care about their discipleship should do. Sharing such spiritual fellowship is the bedrock of a spiritual community. It’s where iron sharpens iron; it’s where the hot coals keep each other burning.
In addition, having a spiritual community gives you a wonderful platform from which to reach others, because you can bring those you meet, who are interested in spiritual things, right into that circle of fellowship and friendship. They can join in on those times when you gather as a community. Whether it’s just two or three of you in a neighborhood or city, or twenty of you, as you create and perpetuate that kind of fellowship, it can become a “nest” of faith and love, of support and encouragement, that can benefit both long-time believers and new ones. You could say that gathering for spiritual fellowship provides an environment that helps disciples to Love Him and Live Him, as well as one where you can Preach Him and Teach Him.
A group that meets for spiritual fellowship may decide to join together in prayer and praise, singing, reading, and worshiping the Lord. Or they may collaborate to enact a mission work, or to collectively teach others. Or maybe a combination of some or all of those things. Whether there are three of you or ten of you or dozens of you, spiritual fellowship and community can expand your options and multiply your efforts.
Spiritual fellowship and united worship is part of what will help you to reach your town or city or country. It’s part of what causes the church to grow. By uniting and giving others the opportunity to pray and praise and love God with you, you will create a community—a network of people who can grow together in loving and living Him, and who will then work together in the task of preaching and teaching Him.
Creating and expanding a spiritual community fosters discipleship. It helps you as a disciple to stay spiritually connected to God and others, because you Love Him and Live Him together. It fosters growth in the mission, because it gives you more strength to Preach Him and a platform to Teach Him to others. New believers are nurtured as your spiritual fellowship is also their spiritual haven, a place where they can spiritually grow and become disciples themselves.
The commission that Jesus has given to His disciples is to bring the Gospel to all the world. Wherever the Lord has called you to is your mission field, and you are called to reach those He puts in your path. On an individual basis, you will most likely engage in the mission one on one with the people that you meet, the people that you work with, the people that you come in contact with. Then, there’s also the aspect of combining your efforts with those of others. It could happen by joining forces in mission endeavors, or by meeting and praying together.—And ideally by bringing others into that meeting and praying together. That spiritual community becomes the seedbed, so to speak, from which the mission in your city or country can grow.
Every nation on earth has people who need Jesus. Every city and every neighborhood contains those who need Him. You can bring Him to them. They need the unconditional love of God. They need disciples who can not only help them find salvation in Jesus, but also walk alongside them on their path in Christian growth and discipleship. They need you.
Are you willing to Love Him? To Live Him? To Preach Him? To Teach Him? If so, then do your best to do those things in whatever circumstance you’re in, and if it’s possible, find others who are willing to do them with you.
The job of the disciple is to win others. If you feel you can’t do much, just do what you can. The Lord will bless your efforts. Like the quote from Saint Francis, “make your walking your preaching.” Even if you can’t devote much time, or any time, to preaching right now, your life can be an example of Jesus’ love.
Be a disciple. Bring Jesus to others. Do what you can to propagate the mission. Propagating the mission is the purpose of TFI, it’s a key aspect of discipleship, and it’s the commission of God. Someone brought the Gospel to you. Someone led you to Jesus. You have eternal life. You’ve been called to share that with others. Find out how to best do it where you are, in your city, in your neighborhood, among the people that you know, or to a wider audience through the Internet or e-mail, or through taking mission trips from time to time. Reach whomever God is calling you to reach in the manner He’s showing you to reach them. Work to change your part of the world, to change those that God has brought across your path.
Be instant in season and out of season. Share the Gospel with those He brings you in contact with. That’s what Jesus did. That’s what His early disciples did. That’s how Christianity has continued to grow. And that’s how you, as a disciple, are fruitful.