In Part 1, I listed four critical disciple-making issues: biblical illiteracy, disciple-maker shortage, caring relationships with lost people, and care for each other. Having focused on the first three issues, in this post I will focus on the final issue: care for each other.
In John 13:34-35, Jesus is clear about the importance of caring for each other. He says:
I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.John 13:34-35, CSB
Jesus command it. His life and teaching showed us how. And when we love like Jesus, the world will know we are His disciples.
Why Is This Important?
We live in a day and culture of demanding my rights, sharing my opinions, and showing short tempers. We find none of those in Jesus. His life displayed agape love, self-giving, sacrificial love. (Love is patient and kind, 1 Cor 13.) When we live out Jesus’ kind of love, the world notices and wants to know why. They know it is different and are attracted to Him.
Love for one another begins with the body. The impact of what we experience in the world too often is carried over into our homes and churches. And the world notices. We need to reverse this.
Critical Disciple-Making: Caring for Each Other
Notice, that here Jesus did not say, love the world. No, He said to love one another. He is talking about the body of Christ. If we do not practice our love with each other, we will not practice it with the world. Our examples matter. Think about the example of Paul and Silas in jail in Acts 16. Yes, I know that the jailer was an unbeliever, but Paul and Silas were encouraging each other (singing praises) and other prisoners and the jailer were witnesses of that love.
Our disciples live in this same world of rights, opinions, and tempers. Disciples need help recognizing our own sin and tendencies related to one another. We need encouragers to remind us of who we are and whose we are. We need reminders about Jesus’ teaching and life along with commitments we have made.
When we fail (and we will) we must do the essential work of confession, reconciliation, and forgiveness. Disciple-makers spend time with disciples in the Word. We help our disciples see the revolutionary nature of the life and teaching of Jesus. We help them shape a Jesus-centered worldview. And we lead them to fall in love with Jesus and the body of Christ, not only in word but in action.
That means we teach with word and example. We are transparent about our own shortcomings and struggles. We ask for prayer and help–even from our disciples. If we are not honest with our disciples, they will not be honest with God or their disciples.
What would happen if the church became the most caring group that exists on earth? What if we talked about Jesus and our best friends at church all the time? Let’s make it so! Love one another. Make disciples!