by Craig Etheredge
The choice to make disciples is the choice to multiply your life. It is the choice to think beyond your own interests and yourself and begin to look at the bigger picture of God’s work on the earth and how you can play a part in it. It is a choice to participate in the great movement in the history of the world. Steve Addison, in his book, “Movements that Change the World”, gives an insightful definition of movements and how they are born.
“In an informal sense, movements are informal groupings of people and organizations pursuing a common cause. They are people with an agenda for change. Movements don’t have members, but they do have participants. The goal of a movement can be furthered by organizations, but organizations are not the totality of a movement. A movement can have leading figures, but no one person or group controls a movement. Movements are made up of people committed to a common cause… For good or for evil, movements make history. So much of history is the result of the clash of movements vying over their conflicting visions of how the world should be. Religious, cultural and political movements shaped the twentieth century. Wars were waged over nationalism, communism, Islamic fundamentalism. The civil rights movement, feminism, environmentalism and the gay rights movement set the social agenda in their day. A well-kept secret is that Pentecostalism, broadly defined, was the largest and most expansive movement of the twentieth century. Movements are characterized by discontent, vision and action. Discontent unfreezes people from their commitment to the way things are. Movements emerge when people feel something needs to change. If the vacuum created by discontent is filled with a vision of a different future and action to bring change then a movement is born. Movements change people, and changed people change the world.”
Movements are born in a vacuum of discontent, fueled by vision and brought to life through the actions of people committed to a common cause. This perfectly describes the movement Jesus created. The vacuum of discontent was felt by people who knew they were far from God and in desperate need of a Savior. Jesus, through His death, burial and resurrection, demonstrated that He alone could fill that vacuum, that aching hole for a relationship with God that is in each of us. Then Jesus cast a compelling vision to His disciples. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you and surely I am with you always to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28.18-20 NET).
Those disciples, empowered by the Holy Spirit, did exactly what Jesus commanded them to do. They saturated Jerusalem with their message of the Gospel. They spilled out into the regions of Judea and Samaria, declaring the hope of salvation that is in Christ alone. They took that message to the nations and made disciples as they went. They were people of action, committed to the common cause of the “Great Commission,” and empowered by the Holy Spirit. That movement Jesus started, is still moving forward. The movement is still growing, ever-expanding, and it is to this movement you and I are called. You say, “How can I join the movement?” The simple answer is Multiply Your Life.
Think about it this way. If 10,000 churches were equipped to reach 1,000 people for Christ every year, that would be amazing, right? Imagine your church leading 1,000 people to Christ every year! But as great as that sounds, at that rate, it would take 600 years to reach more than six billion people on the planet for Christ. That’s way too long. There is a better way. What if you lead one person to Christ and train him for one year to walk with God, share the Gospel, and invest in others? In the first year, there would just be the two of you. In the second year, there would be four. In the third year, you would have eight on your team. By the fourth year, you would have 16. But if you continued that process over time, by year 33, you would have 8.5 billion reproducing disciples! That’s more than the planet population. This was Jesus’ strategy. It was quite simple – every disciple makes a disciple. Every Christ-follower walking with God should be reaching his or her world and investing in a few.
This is what Paul instructed young Timothy to do with his life. “…and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also,” (2 Timothy 2.2 ESV). Paul told Timothy, “Hey, find yourself some faithful men. Teach them what I’ve taught you and then challenge them to do the same.” In this way, Paul was challenging Timothy to multiply his life! I can hear him now, “Timothy, hey don’t waste your life. Multiply it for the cause of Christ to the third and fourth generation!” This is what God has called each one of us to do, multiply our lives. Are you multiplying your life? Paul could see a movement behind him four generations deep: Paul, Timothy, faithful men, and others also.
Jesus also saw a movement behind Him four generations deep: Jesus, twelve apostles, the 72 (Luke 10:1 ESV), and those they led to Christ. And when Jesus heard that the movement had reached the fourth generation, the Scriptures say He was “filled with joy,” (Luke 10.21 ESV). Why was He so joyful? Because He knew that the movement was now four generations deep. It was now unstoppable! Listen, you can ignite a movement to the third and fourth generation too! One day, you could look over your shoulder and see the people you have invested in, multiplying their lives into others, who are also multiplying their lives into others. One day, by God’s grace, you could see a movement spread from your influence that could sweep the globe, impact the nations, and continue to grow until Jesus returns! That can happen! But you must first decide to multiply your life. Think about it, the hope of the world rests on a few people who are willing to multiply their lives into others. The whole Kingdom of God rests on the shoulders of men and women who are willing to multiply their lives into others! I can’t think of anything more important or anything I would rather give my life to more than being a part of God’s movement.
By Craig Etheredge of discipleFIRST. Used with permission.