My Objective is to know Christ in my own life in ever increasing
depth and to MAKE DISCIPLES, and develop laborers at all
times, under any conditions, in every place I go.
The above statement has been a part of the Kansas Navigators team for many years and is based on Philippians 3:10, John 15:8 and Matthew 28:18-20. It serves as a reminder and a standard to which our daily lives are committed. To know Christ deeply is foundational to all else that is included in this objective. It is only His life manifested through us that enables us to make disciples.
Not long ago I met with a young man who was attempting to make a difference in the lives of other Christian friends. His approach was to tell them what they ought to be doing differently and then chiding them for their failure to do so. As he asked for suggestions, I was reminded of an acronym I heard years before, which is a descriptive model of how our lives are enabled to successfully interact with others. Each letter describes an interaction that the Lord had with Peter and serves as a model for us as well. These are as follows:
Prayer-Luke 22:31, Example-Matthew 14:28-31, Teaching-Matthew 17:24-27,
Encouragement-Matthew 16:17-19, Rebuke-Matthew 16:23.
Prayer is foundational to all we do as followers of Christ. Lorne Sanny was fond of saying “Don’t pray for the ministry, prayer is the ministry.” We need to pray with them and for them. I have found the prayers of Paul in Ephesians 1, Philippians 1, and Colossians 1 to be helpful. Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians is that they would know Him better, know the hope of His calling, and know His power to accomplish His work in and through their lives. (Ephesians 1:17-19) His prayer for the Philippians was that their love would grow in knowledge and depth of insight and that they would be able to discern what is best. (Philippians 1:9-10) He prayed for the Colossians that they would know His will and live a life worthy of the Lord. (Colossians 1:9-10) I am also helped in my praying for others by the Lord’s prayer, that the Name of the Lord would be hallowed in their lives, His kingdom would be made evident in their lives, and that His will would be done in their lives. The prayers of our Lord in John 17 are also of significant benefit in praying for others. In addition, prayer that they would have a heart for the Lord, a heart for His word and heart for people is foundational to their growth as a disciple.
In regard to being an example, a member of G. Campbell Morgan’s church once told him: “Don’t tell us we should follow Jesus, show us the Jesus we should follow.” Paul stated “Follow me, as I follow Christ.” In Philippians 4:9, we read “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” In addressing Timothy, Paul writes “You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings-what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured.” (II Timothy 3:10-11) The Lord Himself, when calling His disciples to Him in Mark 3:14 declared that they “might be with him.” We need to live close enough to others so that they see our purpose, faith, patience, love, and endurance. The closer the contact, the greater the impact.
Teaching is not merely the dissemination of Biblical information. It involves training in how to handle the difficult times of life and remain faithful to God’s calling. They need to be taught how to study the Bible for themselves, how to grow in relationship with the Lord and with their fellow man. In Titus chapter two, Paul tells Titus to teach them to manifest self-control, reverence, kindness, integrity, and trustworthiness. We are not to simply tell, we are to teach.
Hebrews 3:13 states “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” The importance of encouragement is signified by the word “daily.” In my recollection, only three other things in scripture are mentioned that we should do daily. One of these is reading the scriptures, (Deut. 17:19); the others are prayer for our daily bread, and to take up the cross daily. As we look at our own lives, the lives of others, and the world around us it is easy to be discouraged. To encourage means to come alongside someone and restore hope by our words and presence. The Apostle Paul referred to this as imparting a spiritual gift in Romans 1:11-12. “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong-that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”
In Matthew 16:23, the Lord rebuked Peter because his mind was focused on things of men, rather than the things of God. Rebuke seems like a strong word, but it is necessary when there is significant departure from God’s will and blindness as to its significance and consequences. A softer word, which is always needed in our relationship with others is accountability. It is in our accountability to others for our time in the word, time in prayer and in our ministry to others that habits are formed which manifest themselves in the character and conduct which make the invisible Christ visible in our lives.
Prayer, example, teaching, encouragement and rebuke were all used by the Lord as Peter became a disciple and laborer for Christ. Peter states the effect of this in II Peter 1:3-4. “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” As the Lord lives His life through us, He desires to use these same five factors in our ministry to others, so that they, like Peter, may participate in His divine nature.