I have known since being born-again, that I have not only become a child of God, I have been called along with every other believer to proclaim The Name of Jesus, so others may hear the message of salvation.
There is no way one can read the Bible as a believer and not hear this call.
Furthermore there is no way one can truly believe and love Jesus without responding to this call.
It's true we will respond as individuals to the great commission depending on our giftings, but I honestly believe our individual service is not the crux of the call...We have unity as the body of Christ by His Spirit and there is only one ultimate call and appropriate response.
I think sometimes we can get so wrapped up in ourselves and our individual calling or ministry that we forget the heart of God and what follows the call of spreading the gospel to the ends of the earth...TO MAKE DISCIPLES.
The heart of God is for relationship. Restored Relationship with Himself and others.
Spreading the Gospel is proclamation that THE WAY has been made by God for us to be forgiven, and to come into a loving relationship with Him as our Father.
God asks us to spread this message and then MAKE DISCIPLES...a less fancy way of saying this is God asks us to spread His message and then MAKE FAMILY.
A disciple is a dedicated follower of Jesus and therefore a child of God. A disciple is one who has come out of the world and gained a royal linage for eternity.
Making a disciple is not making an obedient, non-questioning soldier. Making a disciple is accepting someone as your family member, and then helping them to mature as a child of God. Obedience and loyalty to Christ will follow as a disciple matures. We do not need to dictate, rather love, teach, warn and encourage...leading by example and commitment. Sure spiritual warfare will be a part of a Christian's journey...but it's not the focus, we've already won via our redemption and we have the upper hand due to our new linage.
I think sometimes people can get caught up in church life and service, and forget that making disciples starts at home.
I was reading this evening about the armour of God in Ephesians and when my eyes darted to the previous verses which speak about Christian households, I began to thinking about the Armour of God in a new 'family' way, compared to a personal application as I usually would have. I then kept reading backwards through this encouraging epistle from Paul to the church in Ephesus, a gentile region.
Paul begins by reminding the group they have passed from death to life and that this makes them one in Christ. Paul is reminding them of their Royal Unity. He begins in Chapter 3 to speak of his own ministry to the 'gentiles' to encourage and prepare the Ephesians' minds for unified missional thinking and outreach and again reminds them of their 'new life' as children of God compared to their old ways and the rest of the world.
But this is when it gets interesting, Paul then halfway through Chapter 5 begins to warn the readers to be 'wise' in how they live but this is NOT necessarily as individuals, even though it could be read this way. You see, Paul has been speaking about unity throughout the whole epistle, unity as a CHURCH FAMILY for faithful witness and proclamation. And after saying to be 'wise' in the middle of Chapter 5 he then speaks immediately about the Christian household! Husbands, wives, children, slaves and masters...before closing with the 'Armour of God' which we are so familiar with and usually read personally...
So tonight I am reading it less personally, and I am thinking about my call to proclaim the Gospel and raise disciples and therefore my obligation to not only raise children, but to raise them as disciples...Because remember making disciples is really raising family members!
So my question is...Does it change our thinking if we begin to re-read the famous 'Amour of God' Ephesisans 6:10-17 section, as a direction for the discipleship of our own children in our own family home?
What if we took up the whole Armour to spiritually lead our own children, to raise them as disciples (Children of God) before any other person in our church? Would we see more children in church with their families? I honestly believe so.
What if we were prayer warriors who lead by true example, and put our children first before others, and included them in appropriate ministry work with us? What if when we put shoes on our feet to proclaim, we also let our children join in? What if we included our children in family discussions about real matters of faith to help them use the shield? What if we discussed scripture within everyday living, giving them a true helmet of salvation, and prioritised their own devotional reading of scripture?
Now I am not saying people do not raise their children lovingly as disciples this way, because I know many do. But there are many of us who need encouragement to do so and to continue doing so, and I think that perhaps reading the 'Armour of God' in this new way definitely can help.
Have a read yourself of Ephesians as a whole letter, and see what you think of this wonderful epistle as encouragement for not only yourself but in leading your own family and raising them as disciples!
Oh what a Good Father we have...Let's point our children to Him who is always the answer!