Hebrews 13:20-21. 20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
This past Sunday in my church’s adult Sunday School class we were talking about the Great Commission – go and make disciples. The teacher asked us this question, “Why don’t Christians make disciples?” Several good answers were suggested, including the fear it causes and how difficult it can be. It was also mentioned that we often don’t feel unprepared for the task. But do we actually believe that our savior didn’t equip us for the one job he asks us to do?
Yep. That is what many of us actually think. And so the reasons for sitting on the sidelines continue – I don’t know how. I’m not prepared. It’s the pastor’s job. I need to go to seminary first. What if I mess it up? Once I get some more training I’ll start making disciples.
But look again at how the author of Hebrews prays for his church – May God…equip you…through Jesus Christ. The tense here makes it literally read – May God continue equipping you through Jesus Christ. Ongoing equipping by God in Christ!
So let me ask you, what do we still need in order to do God’s will? Or, assuming it is God’s will that we trust him, love others, and make disciples (it is), what are we still lacking before we can begin to obey?
Or maybe we should ask the question another way – Is union with Christ, is having Jesus, all we need for doing God’s will or not? Hebrews 13:21 says we are being equipped by God with everything good so that we can do God’s will. Is Jesus the “everything good” that we not only need but actually have? Or is there more? Is God holding out on us? Is there a second blessing? Or third? Or fourth? Beyond union with Christ? Is it the indwelling life of the Spirit of Christ + more training, more classes, more programs, more time, more knowledge, more study? Or can every believer in Christ do God’s will and share their life with others, loving others, and making disciples?
Listen, I’m an educated discipleship pastor. So I am not anti-training, anti-study, anti-classes, or anti-programs. All of this “equipping” can and should be helpful. But have these things also created a road block to each and every Christian living the normal Christian life of “doing God’s will” through the equipping that is found in simply knowing the peace of Jesus who was brought forth (resurrected) from the dead? Yes, take a class. Yes, read a book. Yes, study, study, study God’s word. Yes, get trained in disciple making. But never, ever place your faith in these things. It is faith in the grace of God in Christ Jesus alone that works in us to “will and to work for God’s good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).
Our God is the God of peace. So why does doing God’s will, and making disciples stress us out so much?
Maybe because we’ve forgotten that doing God’s will is impossible to mess up. Jesus has already died. Jesus has already been brought forth from the dead. The covenant is eternal. Unbreakable and unending. We’ve forgotten that God himself is working in us. God’s will is not a work that we are accomplishing in the world. God’s will is his work being accomplished in us, through Jesus. We’ve forgotten that making disciples doesn’t make us more or less loved or saved. We’ve forgotten that doing God’s will is the effect of our salvation in Christ, not the cause.
But mostly we’ve forgotten what a Christian disciple is – a follower. And what making disciples is – a follower guiding other followers. Jesus is the great shepherd of the sheep. We are sheep. Sheep that make sheep.
You see, doing God’s will and making disciples is not about having all the knowledge and all the answers that go with it. It’s not about having your life all together. It’s not about sharing your vast wisdom and expressing your immense faith in front of others. It’s about being a lowly and humble sheep in need of constant grace. God’s will is that we love one another and make disciples. Discipleship is simply saying, “I’m a sheep. You’re a sheep. Let’s be sheep together.”
Are you equipped for that? Yes. You are. How do I know? Because you have the great Shepherd of the sheep, our Lord Jesus, living inside of you. Point to him. Not yourself. Point to the Shepherd. Point to his death and resurrection. Point to his eternal covenant. Point to “to live is Christ.”
Would you say you’re equipped to do God’s will? Why or why not?
You in Christ
Union with Christ is meant to bring peace not stress. Does doing God’s will still stress you out? What might you be failing to believe?
Christ in you
Where can you do God’s will today and love another “sheep?”
Playlist: Equipped in Christ