We live in a time of great change in some core moral beliefs in North America.
For example, Barna research has documented that over 40 percent of self-described practicing Christians now believe that it is a good idea for people to live together before they are married (cohabitation).
One of our 10 disciple making affirmations at Discipleship.org is that the Bible is the authoritative, reliable, and ultimate standard for discipleship and life (2 Tim. 3:16-4:2).
So, when the Bible clearly teaches that sexual immorality is sinful, we stand, as disciple makers, with the Bible. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 states it succinctly: “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
Teachings like this are hard teachings to believe and uphold in our day.
The best way to do it is by Jesus style disciple making. Let me explain.
Jesus showed us, by the way he discipled the Twelve, that it is in the context of relationships grounded in love that we can process hard teachings. Love builds the bridge. The disciples saw how Jesus loved them, so they knew that hard teachings were given by someone who loved them and only wanted the best for them. The Gospel of Mark describes how Jesus gave a very hard teaching to the rich young ruler. Mark 10:21 describes the tone of how Jesus approached him. It says, “Jesus looked at him and loved him.”
So, love is the most essential factor in communicating hard teachings.
Jesus style disciple making is grounded in the reality that we love people. Disciple making starts with love. It is undergirded with love and the outcome is love. We often need to be reminded that there are three great things – faith, hope and love – but the greatest of these is love (1 Cor. 13:13).
Disciple making is loving people. That is the context for communicating hard teachings.
Written by Bobby Harrington
Bobby Harrington is the Executive Director of Discipleship.org, a national platform, conference, and ministry that advocates for Jesus’ style of disciple making. He is the founding and lead pastor of Harpeth Christian Church (by the Harpeth River, just outside of Nashville, TN). He has a Doctor of Ministry degree in consulting and has spent years as a coach to church planters and senior pastors. He is the author of several books on discipleship, including DiscipleShift (with Jim Putman and Robert Coleman) and The Disciple Maker’s Handbook (with Josh Patrick).