Making disciples is not an easy process. It is trying. It is messy. It is slow, tedious, even painful at times. It is all these things because it is relational.” —David Platt, author & evangelist
Have you ever been to a Bible study where shouting, cussing, and a near fist fight broke out? I have.
The group included men from an inner-city ministry environment I’d been working in for several months. We were finishing a discussion on the topic of self-control one day when, ironically, all control left the room.
The commotion started between two men who hadn’t been getting along. First came accusations, then loud, threatening cussing. Lewd gestures and threats started flying. A real brouha broke out. I tried speaking calm into the situation, but the man starting the quarrel rose from the table, got in my face, and began yelling at me. I was braced for being punched; thankfully it never came to blows.
Although one of these men never came back, other discipling relationships built within that group continued. Two of the men were eventually baptized. Another recommitted his life to Christ and became part of a small group at the church I attend. We stayed in fellowship with him from 2010 until he passed away in early 2018.
A lesser dustup recently occurred in one of our new discipling circles. A guy I’ve been discipling invited a friend to the new study. Both these men and one other in the study are recovering addicts. About halfway through the morning’s discussion the visitor abruptly blurted out, “I don’t want a thing to do with this Christian b.s.” He angrily left. I’ve since learned he has deep emotional scars from years of child abuse.
We can learn important things from these two stories and others like them. First, intentionally engaging a broken world means stepping on the turf of the evil one; you’ll meet resistance. Next, dealing with fractured lives often involves “unearthing” anger, bitterness, and unresolved pain. Vulnerability tends to be intimidating, and trying to maneuver through a person’s emotional baggage can be a “minefield.” You might be ridiculed. You might get your feelings hurts. ou’ll definitely experience discouragement and weariness at times. There’s a chance you’ll be tempted to quit when it gets hard, but don’t.
Showing love and grace can be hard work and often is. It was hard for Jesus, too, but in doing so he modeled ethics of the Kingdom of Heaven and won the hearts of men. The same attitude and spirit of perseverance is required of us as we undertake the task of making disciples. Expect bumps, but hang on. Ask questions. Listen and care deeply! Love big and pray big! God can and will use your disciple making efforts for bringing healing and salvation to the world!