Getting Beyond the Lame Rank of a Webelo

November 25, 2016

Matthew 28:16-20

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

CONSIDER THIS

Go and make disciples.

We began this journey with Matthew on February 11, 2016 and finally we come to a close on November 25, 2016. That’s roughly a nine month period of time. I am not sure what I was thinking when I pushed publish on Matthew 1:1, but after two weeks in the genealogy alone I knew we were in for a marathon. It is fitting that we end here as the church turns the page onto Advent and a new year of following Jesus.

It is also fitting that as we began with a genealogy—a record of generations past, we end with a commission to move that genealogy forward into the generations of the future.

Go and make disciples.

I am writing this today and you are reading it because generations of men and women were faithful to heed this great commission of Jesus. My chief purpose in writing is to help you become a better disciple, and the surest sign of becoming a better disciple is becoming a disciple maker.

This has been Matthew’s goal all along—not making disciples, but making disciple-makers. This was Jesus three year goal, not only with these twelve men, but the with the whole community of his followers—not to make them disciples, but disciple makers.

And what if it is true that you are not a bona-fide disciple until you are a disciple-maker. It brings to mind my scouting days. I began as a Cub Scout, progressed to a Webelo and was on my way to the summit of Eagle Scout when the wheels fell off. What happened? My Pack broke up. There weren’t enough kids in my small town who wanted to keep going. And because there was no way to go it alone, I was forever relegated to the lame status of a “Webelo.” Know what the word means? It means, “We will Be Loyal,” WeBeLo.

Go and make disciples.

I think it’s a decent analogy for the Church. We’ve got a whole lot of Webelos and not nearly enough people on the path toward Eagle. Why? It’s not that people are content to be Webelos. We simply don’t have the the kind of communities it takes to make Disciple-Makers. We have churches aplenty and they are doing their best to keep us engaged in disciple-making activities. We have small groups galore and Sunday School classes and we are being faithful to gather together around good Bible study and teaching and so forth. We are even doing mission oriented things, from reaching out to our next door neighbors to taking trips to the ends of the Earth to help people in need.

All of this is good stuff and it is making a lot of difference to a lot of people, but it is never going to get us past the Webelo ranks. Sure, there will be the occasional outlier who rises toward Eagle, but the chances are we will do our best to fast track him or her toward professional Christianity. Chances are they will do their best to build a better mouse trap, but it will at best be a better version of the Webelo making machine that defines the church-industrial complex of our time.

Go and make disciples.

What if all this time we’ve misunderstood the Great Commission? I am convinced after fifty years on this Earth, with twenty-five of them spent in the ranks of professional Christianity, that when Jesus said, “go and make disciples,” he was not envisioning Webelos, a.k.a. loyalists. Jesus is not looking for those who pledge to become loyalists but for those who will not stop until their entire existence is defined by the capital L Love of God. That’s what it takes to be a disciple maker.

Go and make disciples.

We don’t have a “content” problem. It’s not that our Bible studies aren’t good enough. We don’t have a “community” problem. It’s not that our Sunday morning worship services and midweek activities and home group fellowships aren’t cutting it. We don’t really have a “compassion” problem. It’s not that our mission trips and local outreaches aren’t helping enough people.

We have a “connection” problem. The problem is with our relationships. We are simply not related to one another in the kinds of ways it takes to make us disciple makers. We have a Love problem. Only love can move us into the work of making disciple makers. And I don’t think it is so much a “lack of” Love issue as it is an “ignorance of” what real Love really is. We have for too long put love in a “soft” category which has resulted in the substitution of a lot of sentimentality for real love. Love is not sentimental. It is supernatural. And yes, it is hard. You’re seeing the challenge. The catch 22 of it all is we can’t solve our ignorance problem until we have solved our connection problem.

Go and make disciples.

As Matthew began with the genealogy of Jesus, we now come to the end, where the intended outcome is that each one of us would have an entire genealogy of disciple-making disciples in our wake. That, my friends, is the genealogy we are making now, . . . or not.

It’s time to stop for the day. But I want you to know I am just getting started. I am dedicating whatever remains of my life to the work of making disciple-makers. Since I am not presently leading a local church, I consider you as my “parish.”

As is my practice, I will be taking Advent off from the Daily Text. We will likely run some “previously aired” episodes until the first of 2017. When I return I’m going to be bringing a fresh challenge. My goal will be to help you become a disciple-maker who makes disciple-makers. I’ll be bringing my A game and I want you to bring yours too.

Go and make disciples.

Let’s leave it there for now.

For the Awakening. . . .

THE PRAYER

Abba Father, thank you for Matthew and the ways you inspired him by the Holy Spirit to see and understand and write this Gospel down. And thank you for the ways the Holy Spirit has caused this Gospel to escape the confines of pen and paper and to leap off the pages into our lives. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Come Holy Spirit and make us disciple makers who make disciple makers. No matter what it costs us, let us settle for nothing less. In Jesus name, Amen.

daily-text-matthew-11-25-16THE QUESTIONS

1. How do you relate to the “Webelo” analogy in today’s reflection?

2. Would you consider yourself a bona-fide “Disciple-Maker?”

3. What do you think of this assertion that we have a “Connection” problem? Are you ready to solve that one?

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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. jd.walt@seedbed.com.

1 COMMENT

  1. When first sent forth to minister the word,
    Say did we preach ourselves, or Christ the Lord?
    Was it our aim disciples to collect,
    To raise a party, or to found a sect?
    No; but to spread the power of Jesus’ name,
    Repair the walls of our Jerusalem
    Revive the piety of ancient days,
    And fill the earth with our Redeemer’s praise.
    -Charles Wesley

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