Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Discipleship's Winning Numbers

We’ve all been watching the evening news and have seen the portion of the show when the lottery numbers are drawn. For most of us, this is a boring time where we often think, “Ok, ok. Let’s get on with it.” Most of us may even wish that this wasn’t part of the broadcast at all. But how different would your attitude be if you bought a ticket that morning? If you were anxiously holding that lottery ticket in your hand? How different is your perspective then? As the numbers are drawn, you are on the edge of your seat with anticipation. You can’t wait one more second for that next number to be called, hoping that it matches the one you picked earlier in the day. You are hanging on to every word that is spoken by the announcer as if they are speaking to you directly, calling out the first number, then the second, then the third…
It’s amazing how having some level of involvement can have such a profound impact on how we view different situations like this.  The same application can be used when we are discipling someone, or for that matter teaching them the Bible in any context. If they don’t know that the passage you’re teaching speaks directly to them, they are going to have the same attitude as the person who didn’t buy the lottery ticket. They aren’t going to care what’s being said, because it has no connection to them whatsoever.
However, if we can show them that what we are teaching them from the Bible can be directly applied to their life, they will hang on our every word just like they would for the lottery numbers as a ticket holder. If they can hear the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15 and hear that their Heavenly Father is waiting with arms wide open to forgive them like the earthy father in the story, they suddenly become a character in the story. It begins to come to life for them. If they read in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that ‘if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation - the old has passed away and the new has come,’ they would know that they too can be a new creation if they come to ChristThey can put away their old life, and have a new life in Christ. It is no longer a letter written by some guy named Paul 2000 years ago. It is a letter to them. A letter from God.
This is a challenge for most of us, because now not only do we have to know the Bible so we can teach it to others. We also have to know the people we’re teaching on a personal level. We have to know all about their life so we can show them how to apply Scripture to where they are and what they’re going through. There is no shortcut for this. It takes time and an emotional investment from both parties. It takes me giving the time and showing a genuine concern for the young men I disciple, while investing in their lives personally. This is the only way to be effective in making disciples, and is exactly what Jesus did with His 12 men. They won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
The people who are holding lottery tickets are anticipating the announcement of every number. It matters to them because they are their numbers. That ticket belongs to them. The same applies to the Word of God. That verse is theirs. It is God’s promise spoken directly to them.
 There are no sure bets in this life, but there is one thing that is certain. If you can teach someone the Bible and how to apply what they read on their own, it will transform their life in such a way that they will want to do the same for someone else.  

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