Feb17WedFebruary 17, 2016
The snow had stopped falling on Sunday evening and our family had a window of time when shoveling was possible. As I was lacing up my boots, our eldest son approached me about playing a game with him. Instead of offering an answer full of disappointment, I invited him to join me outside. Guy time…plus shoveling. He quickly agreed and hurried to get ready.
The snow wasn’t very thick or deep, but it was enough to cause our nine year-old son to work up quite a sweat. He worked with a shovel and I with our push-broom. After about thirty minutes, we finished the project headed towards the garage.
“You did an awesome job, son!” I told him. I was very impressed with his willingness to help and his ability to work hard even when he started to get tired. Our son turned to me and said something which grabbed my attention. “Don’t you mean WE did an awesome job?” I smiled and we bumped fists before heading inside.
This moment immediately drew me back to the text that we studied earlier that day – Peter’s reconciliation and recommission with Jesus on the lake shore from John 21. As you recall, Peter had denied Jesus three times. Therefore, Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” three times. In that interchange, Jesus was offering Peter the give of grace through forgiveness. But, Jesus didn’t just forgive Peter, for he went on to say: “Feed my lambs… Tend my sheep… Feed my sheep….” (John 21:15-17). What was he doing? Jesus was re-commissioning Peter to do the missional work of disciple-making!
The story reminds us that grace is given in order to prompt us towards full participation in God's mission. 'Making disciples' is the mission of the church (Matthew 28:18-20) yet many Christians don’t actually live this out. Why is that? Perhaps some feel ill-equipped. Perhaps some simply forget. Perhaps others think that their congregation must come up with a program first before they can join disciple-making movement.
Yet, Jesus’ words to Peter tell us exactly what to do: LEAD and FEED one another, young and old, under Jesus’ direction. We are to (intentionally) care for the spiritual lives of those younger and older than us. We are to lead one another back to God’s Word. Lead one another back to prayer. 'Shepherd' one another towards the Chief Shepherd through honest questions and humility. LEAD and FEED.
But this does not happen by accident. Deeper conversations take time, patience and diligence. If you are diligent to make these kind of relationships a priority, and participate in the mission of God, I promise you that you’ll often feel like my son did in the snow – ill-equipped and too weak for the job. I have been building intentional disciple-making relationships for many years and I still feel this way! "I don't know what to say!" "I don't know what part of the Bible to read!"
But amazing part about God's mission of disciple-making is that Jesus shows up in these conversations, even in subtle ways. Over time real spiritual maturity begins to take place! When I see it among my spiritual friends or in myself, I want to shout out “Jesus, you did an awesome job!” Then the oddest thing happens. His response becomes, “Don’t you mean WE did an awesome job?”
Now don’t get me wrong. The Lord is absolutely capable to changing the hearts and lives of people without my help or yours. He can soften the hardest of hearts with just one word. Disciple-making is also not about boasting as if we somehow manufactured spiritual growth. However, God DOES desire to involve us in the process. What a gift we have been given! Grace and God’s mission! If you understand this, it changes everything!
By faith, Jesus invites you to join him in his work among your friends, family and co-workers this week. His invitation is the same which he gave to Peter… “Follow me” (John 21:19). If you are willing to join him outside, put on your gloves and hat. There is relational work to be done!