Theology Thursday: Fruitful Disciples

It’s a new year, and many people are focused on becoming more productive. They want to get better grades, lose more weight, make more money, etc. When it comes to living as a disciple of Jesus, the idea of “productivity” has a place. An important part of being fruitful disciples is making more disciples. This is the Great Commission Christ gave His followers in Matthew 28:18-20.

 

But how does a disciple become more fruitful? Two truths from Scripture are key. First, being a fruitful disciple is only possible by the power of God’s Spirit. Before Jesus’ disciples impacted the world, He told them, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Being a fruitful disciple is not resolving in your own strength to do so; rather, it is about resting in God’s power to do so.

Of course, this does not mean that disciples are passive in this process. Making disciples involves hard work. Nevertheless, this hard work is the result of Christ’s power. Paul mentioned both his intense labors and Jesus’ strength in making disciples when he wrote, “Him we proclaim, warning everyone with all wisdom and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. “For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” (Colossians 1:28-29, emphasis added).

Second, being a fruitful disciple is about making intentional, sustained and personal investments in others. While God impacts large crowds, He also works in small and even one-to-one discipleship relationships. Jesus ministered to multitudes (John 6), to small groups like His twelve disciples (John 13), to an “inner circle” of His disciples (Matthew 17) and to His individual followers (John 21).

Unfortunately, many today only think that bigger is better. Yet, in Personal Disciple-Making, Christopher Adsit emphasizes the power of multiplication in making disciples. He explains that if one person invests in another person for a year, two stable disciples emerge at the end of the year. Then, if these two disciples each invest in another person for a year, four stable disciples emerge at the end of this second year. Then, if these four disciples each invest in another person for a year, eight stable disciples emerge at the end of the third year. Assuming this pattern continues with the number of disciples doubling every year, the entire population of the world would be impacted in approximately thirty-four years and this will happen by one disciple simply investing in one disciple over the span of each successive year.

Of course, not everyone in the world will become a disciple of Jesus. Yet, the power of making an intentional, sustained and personal investment in others cannot be denied. So, do you want to be a more fruitful disciple? If so, who are you investing in this year by God’s power?

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