What is the goal of evangelism and shepherding? The goal is not to send so-called believers to heaven, but to make disciples of all nations, states Rev. Tang in a discipleship course recently held in a church.
Jesus called his disciples, not only teaching them but also requiring them to leave everything to follow him. "Following" in the time of Jesus means that the leader established a relationship with his follower. The life, action and concepts of the follower were gradually moulded by the leader and eventually transformed totally.
They chose to imitate the Lord. As a result, they naturally showed the teaching, lifestyle and values of the Lord. At that time people saw God's presence with them and recognized that they were the followers of Jesus Christ. Moreover, they devoted their life to following Jesus, even at the price of their lives.
However, nowadays, people have a superficial knowledge of the meaning of following Jesus. It seems that there is no standard for a believer's behavior after he makes a prayer to accept Jesus. The leaders should remember that Jesus called us to be his disciples and also ask us to lead more people to become his followers. Disciple making is the responsibility of all believers.
One crucial reason why we can't develop disciples is that we have little faith, holding that people are immature for ministry. But take notice that we wouldn't have been who we are if our pastor or leader lost faith and kept us away from ministry. Everyone is immature at the beginning of service. We grow mature as long as we fall down, try to stand, get up and continue to work hard.
The speaker hopes that we can have the mind of Paul to train disciples after sowing seeds and learn to empower their followers to do the right thing.
Meanwhile, the pastor points out that Christians should reflect on whether they emphasize too much on themselves. Rather than on the Lord, we focus more on our health, wealth, jobs, publicity and satisfaction of our emotions. Even many modern Christian books offer quick ways to attain things like success, effective work and perfect marriage -- they are fundamentally "self-centered."
But what does the Lord say? "Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. ' "(Matt. 16:24-25)
It can be seen that the center of being disciples is to follow Jesus instead of ourselves. Jesus means that you become his believer (your life is transformed) then you follow him -- you're his disciple. You show your Christian identity with two types of deed: love and obedience -- you will produce spiritual fruits.
"Salvation is not the finishing line of Christian pilgrimage but the starting point -- the beginning of imitating Jesus."
Translated by Karen Luo