In order to do a job right, you need to be trained for it. While you can be trained by being cast into a situation and forced to come up with something with your wits alone, but it isn’t the best way. Rather, everyone who undertake a new task or position is employed in some training to discipline themselves to follow a new protocol. However, with faith in Jesus, it’s a little different.
When you come to faith in Christ, it does seem like you are thrown into the deep end. Suddenly all these expectations are placed upon you: how you are to dress, talk, act, and witness. It’s not exactly fair, largely because most people in that position have not been properly trained even as the New Testament instructs. Jesus told his disciples this way:
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Did you notice the sequence? First, as apostles, they go into all the world (technically, it is “as you go”, meaning that “as you go about the business of life”), then second, make disciples. Making disciples in those days meant finding those willing to learn and taking them alongside, instructing them and teaching them as you go about your work, much as Paul would working as a tent-maker. Then, once they have a recognizable commitment, third, you baptize them into the Name (of the Triune God, Father, Son and Spirit), and then fourth, teaching them everything to observe everything Jesus commanded of the Apostles, i.e., going out and making disciples.
So in this many of us I am afraid have made a few mistakes. We have tried for the “win” of the baptism or the prayer of faith or whatever your church does. We count that as a “salvation” and then expect that person to suddenly know what to do. We forget there is a time of discipleship, both showing and teaching what a Christian is, both what he believes and how he lives. These are both important, as many of our Christians today would rather not people follow them into the workplace. We are to be examples everywhere we are, so that others know how to become Christians everywhere they go.
Therefore as Christians, we could actively be teaching others about our faith, the reason for our beliefs, so that we can encourage others to become Christians and grow in turn to teach others. I believe that baptism can occur both early and late, as there is not set time to baptize a person in this process. But this process must include “counting the cost” of salvation in Jesus (which can be very costly for some coming out of other cultures), but also learning basic discipleship, prayer, Bible study, etc. When a person is finally baptized, they are not thrown into the deep end of the pool unprepared, but they are thrown into the deep end. It’s just that by the time they take the dip, they know how to swim.
Why do you think there is such rescividism among new Christians, especially in our culture where they quickly become Christmas-Easter attenders? Its because they’ve never had the chance to witness Christianity in a person’s life. It’s only been on Sunday morning. They didn’t follow the pastor home, or an elder home, or another believer to find out what it means to live as a Christian before they gave their life to Jesus. That is a critical and vital piece that has long been missing from our modern “revivalist” mentality in the Church. We yearn for the altar calls and the decisions, but we don’t take the time to make disciples.
And making disciples is painful. But as Jesus taught, if we are going to make disciples that make other disciples, we have to make disciples first. That starts with you. That starts with you living your life in an obvious way that shoes others what living in Jesus means. It takes time and deliverate effort, but it is worth it.
So heavenly Father, help me to grow in You and show others today how I have grown so that they will want what I have. Let Your Name be on my lips so that I can draw all men unto You who is lifted up in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.