What is our purpose as followers of Jesus? I believe our ultimate calling, purpose and mission is to give glory to God by making disciples. It's that simple. We complicate it, fancy it up, avoid it and come up with all sorts of things we can do in place of it, but when the rubber meets the road, we are called to make disciples. All of us.
As a full-time pastor I have always been aware of and sensitive to the challenges Christians face as disciple-makers in the secular market place. Coming from a family of teachers, I understand that the laws of the land often work against us being able to preach the name of Jesus and make disciples without fear of persecution. While I'm incredibly sympathetic to the reality that as a "professional Christian" I'm expected to make disciples, and the majority of you who make up the local church face obstacles and challenges that I never experience, I was reminded over the past week that despite the circumstances, fears or threats of persecution, all of us are commanded to make disciples. Pastor and principal, student and teacher, doctor and lawyer, hourly employee and corporate executive, all believers are called to the same mission. Let me share my experience with you.
Last Sunday our Intentional Communities Director, Stacie Hooks, finished up a 3 part teaching series on the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) as a part of our current series on Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. In part 3 Stacie talked about the reality that as followers of Jesus, we are blessed when we are persecuted. In fact, we have a heritage of persecution as Jesus points out when he references the prophets of old who endured great persecution for their faith. And the crux of the message centered around a belief, based on the teachings and accounts in Scripture, that as Christians we should expect persecution. If we're faithful to Jesus' mandate to make disciples, persecution will inevitably come. This is serious. This is not fun. But persecution is the path to blessing that begins with obedience.
This week one of our Intentional Communities that has decided to make the teenagers of Tacoma their mission field held their first official outreach. They hosted a Thanksgiving dinner and had 15 teenagers show up! Several of the teenagers are connected to our church. But a good number of them are students of Kyler, one of the IC leaders. Kyler has only been a teacher for a short time and you don't have to be around her long to realize she loves it. She is definitely a "math nerd," but her primary motivation in teaching is not to develop a generation of students who excel in mathematics. Her passion, purpose and objective in teaching is simply to make disciples. That's what led her to invite those students to Thanksgiving dinner with her IC.
But Kyler understands disciple-making is more than an event. She has been prayerful through the process, getting to know her students and gauging their spiritual openness to find out where God is working. There is one student in particularly, her name is Lucy, that God has placed on Kyler's heart. Lucy is a Hispanic student whose parents speak mainly Spanish. She has a Catholic heritage that includes attending mass a couple times a year. Last week Kyler asked Lucy, her student, to go to coffee. Kyler's purpose was not academic, it was spiritual. She told Lucy she wanted to teach her about Jesus and help her figure out her faith and what she really believes. Lucy was caught off guard but was interested. Last night Kyler met with Lucy and her parents and asked permission to disciple Lucy. While her parents were guarded and hesitant, they agreed, and Kyler begins meeting with Lucy on a weekly basis next Wednesday!
I am amazed and inspired by Kyler's faithfulness in one of the most difficult places to make disciples, the public school system. Did Kyler stand on the desk and preach that her students should repent? No. But from speaking with her, I can tell you that she prays for her students regularly, looks for gospel opportunities, takes those opportunities every chance she gets and leaves the results, including her job security, in the hands of the God of the universe.
All I can say is Wow! I don't know that I would be as bold as Kyler if I was in her situation. I hope and pray that I would. But what if all of us, no matter our situation, decided to obey Jesus' command to make disciples? I'm sure the unemployment rate would increase! But I'm confident the Kingdom of God would grow exponentially as well. Please pray for Kyler and Lucy and for who God is calling you to disciple.