2 Timothy 2:1-7. You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 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. 3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. 5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. 7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
What if the Christian faith had ended with the Apostles? What if men like Paul had never passed on what he believed to others like Timothy? And what if Timothy had never entrusted it to faithful men and women? And what if those faithful men and women had never taught others also? Where would we be today?
Christianity is a multiplying faith. Because no one is born a Christian, the faith must be entrusted to others by the faithful. It must be taught from one disciple to another. It must be passed on from Christian, to Christian, to Christian.
So why are so many Christians content with never making disciples? Never reproducing themselves? Maybe because we see simply being a Christian, and managing our own spiritual growth as hard enough, without adding making more Christians and managing their growth to the things I have to do today.
And it’s true, disciple making was never meant to be easy. Look at Paul’s three metaphors that follow: a soldier, an athlete, a farmer. I am none of these things, and for good reason – they’re all really, really hard. Soldiers must give up everything to go fight for their king. Crawling through mud with arrows flying overhead. Athletes train, and train, and train some more, bound by both their own body and the rules of competition. Farmers labor day and night never knowing exactly what will come of their hard work. Patience, disappointment, and finally, the harvest.
So if disciple making is really this hard, how on earth can anyone ever do it?
Only when we are strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Only when we are strengthened by his unfailing love for us, even when we fail. Only when we are strengthened by his power alone to change hearts, even when our hearts falter. Only when we are strengthened by his unmerited favor, his grace offered free for the taking in each and every relational moment. Even when we are convinced that there can’t be anything left for God to give to us after so many of our failures. No. His grace is an ever shining sun, an ever flowing stream, an ever blowing breeze.
Why don’t we make disciples? Because we don’t really understand or trust God’s grace. Because we haven’t been strengthened by the grace of Christ Jesus. We don’t really believe that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ. We don’t really trust that no weapon formed against us shall prosper. We can’t see with eyes of faith the treasure awaiting us in Heaven – the glory of the presence of God made even more glorious as we share it with those we have guided to Jesus. We can’t envision the joy set before us that would empower us to endure the cross of Christ, the joy of a transformed life.
“To live is Christ” is a multiplication project. Multiplying the grace of Christ Jesus into the lives of others through our faithful teaching of the gospel. No one said it would be easy. But the promise of God’s strength through grace will stand forever.
So who’s with me?
How are you multiplying yourself?
You in Christ
Have you experienced the strength of the grace that comes from being in Christ?
Christ in you
How have you seen Christ work through you in someone else’s life?
Playlist: Strengthened In Grace.
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Yes, I am multiplying myself by leading Bible studies and writing for Jesus on two blogs. My prayer is that God’s saving message gets to the people who need it. We all need it.