“Discipleship isn’t complicated. It is all laid out. We simply have to start with the beginning, which is Christ’s authority over everything in heaven and earth, and we make disciples. We don’t make Lutherans. We don’t make Baptists. We don’t make Catholics. We don’t make Protestants. Make disciples of the Baptists, of the Lutherans, of the Catholics – of all the groups make disciples; and they will come together to form the body of Christ where they are. Ministers can minister to one another and hold one another up and know one another without being threatened or without competing, because they are in the business of going through their community and making disciples and bringing them together and teaching them to do everything that Jesus said.“~Dallas Willard, Living in Christ’s Presence
Dallas Willard, who just passed away a few years ago, was one of the top thinkers on Discipleship and Spiritual Formation in our time. I absolutely love his writings. This snippet comes from his last book called Living in Christ’s Presence.
Here Willard is talking about how the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) doesn’t say, “Go therefore and make Baptists/Lutherans/Methodists of all the nations…” No, it says go and make disciples. Disciples are all that matter.
I believe that our generation is going to see a lot of the dividing walls between denominations start to come down. And I believe they will come down for the exact reason that Willard talks about, making disciples. As the church begins to get back to what it truly means to be a disciple, and our sole focus in life is to hear and obey Christ, then all the pettiness of one church vs another will begin to fall by the wayside.
Love God; love your neighbor as yourself. I’m not sure how we in the church can screw that up so royally… and the worst part is that we are often cruelest to our own extended family, the rest of the Church.
“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:22-23
Unity was Jesus’ prayer for us… and the world will come to know Jesus through our unity. So could the opposite be true? Maybe the reason the world doesn’t know Jesus is because we don’t know one another… or can I go so far as to say maybe we don’t even truly know Jesus’ heart? I think we are often much more focused on building our own kingdoms rather than God’s kingdom.
So how can we get back to what truly matters? How can we get back to the world-changing unity that Jesus prayed we would have? I for sure don’t have the answer, but I think a good first step, like Willard says, is for us to become true disciples; people that are simply listening to Jesus and obeying.
What do you think is the missing piece for greater unity? Do you see the dividing walls within the Church beginning to fall down?