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But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved (Rom 10:8-10).
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Php 2:5-11).
Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).
You have probably heard this a thousand times: “Let Jesus into your heart,” or some variant thereof.
Some of you have probably seen the meme going around with Jesus saying, “I never asked you to let me into your heart, I asked you to make me your lord.” And maybe you rolled your eyes and kept going, as I did initially.
But something about it ate at me for a while. The thing is, it’s actually very true!
Every approach has its flaws, the consequences that arise from the way things are done, from what is emphasized. For example, the Orthodox Church often emphasizes tradition—they are very proud they have changed none of their methods since the first century—and it’s great, but at the same time, they often have people more devoted to a dead tradition than to an actual relationship with Christ.
For us Evangelicals, we have emphasized The Decision: did you pray The Prayer? Did you let Jesus into your heart? And as a consequence, we have created a culture that, by and large, will disciple someone to the point of making The Decision for Christ, then checks the box and says, “You’re a Christian now!” and abandons them for the next would-be convert.
But we’ve abandoned the newborn children in the faith. And not knowing how to live their new life, they return to the old one. Only now, they believe that they are Christian, because they said some magic prayer.
Bonus: For us Pentecostals, we disciple people to the point of the Baptism in the Spirit, and then drop them. Better? Sure, but not much.
Really, the heart of this came to me with a recent talk with a student of mine. He says Christianity is the closest religion to what he believes, but he can’t really accept the Trinity. So I walked him through the Nicene Creed and Php 2, and he said, “Yeah, that makes sense! I can believe that!” He’s at a stage of intellectual assent—which is where I myself started.
But is he now Christian?
What does it mean to be Christian?
“Christianity is a relationship with God!” And that’s true. But Satan has a relationship with God, and he is not saved. His relationship is adversarial, but it’s still a relationship.
Loving God is much closer, but it’s still not quite there. Because you can love God but still give God no authority over your life. And this is probably the greatest problem in Western Christian culture today: we have millions of people who love God, but who don’t give Him authority.
Jesus is their friend, not their Lord. And it is the relationship of Lordship—making the Son your Lord as well as your friend, the Father your Lord as well as your Father, the Spirit your Lord as well as your Advocate—therein lies Christianity.
It is not enough to assent intellectually to Christ. It is not enough to say a prayer and let Jesus into your heart. It is not enough to have a relationship with God if God is not your Lord.
So, what? What does this mean for you as a disciple-maker?
First, you must recognize your own call as a disciple. You are a servant of Christ, and so Christ must be your Lord.
Where in your life is Christ not Lord? What are you holding back from him? You can’t be a servant of Christ and watch porn: that’s not letting Christ be Lord. Nor can you gossip, lie, steal, hold malice—all of the things Paul is prone to listing, and you probably know them well.
Find those areas where Christ is not Lord of your life, and conquer them in the name of your Lord Jesus Christ.
Second, you must remember that, as a disciple-maker, you are making servants. Are you just trying to get people to say the right words, some prayer? Then your aim is too low. Are you just trying to get people baptized in the Holy Spirit? Then your aim is too low. Are you trying to get people to be friends with God? Then your aim is too low.
All these things are good things, even necessary things! But they are not the end!
So, with that in mind, how does that change how you disciple people? Is what you are doing to disciple people in line with making Christ their Lord? If not, what do you need to change?
Is there anyone you’ve gotten to some lower point and then dropped? Maybe you need to get in contact with them and start building them towards being true servants of God!
And rejoice! Because there is no better place to be than in the Lord’s house!