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Kostiantyn Tustanovskyi

Making disciples in pandemic

Is Making Disciples for Times of Pandemic?

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Before Jesus ascended into heaven he gave his disciples a commandment to make disciples Matthew 28:18-20. But how is it relevant for us in this time of pandemic?

I like how this conversation in Acts goes.

Acts 1:6-8 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

The disciples are eager for the kingdom of Israel to be restored – to see peace and prosperity. Isn’t this the same thing we are looking forward to today? For the pandemic to pass and normality to return with its peace and prosperity. But Jesus diverts their attention to something else. He tells them that in the midst of all this, in the midst of Israel remaining under the rule and oppression of the Roman empire, they will “receive power of the Holy Spirit, and they will be Jesus’ witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The disciples want to know what God is up to in regards to Israel’s situation, their oppressed rights, poverty and economic situation. But Jesus tells them not to think about that. Rather, to focus on the work that God is doing in them and on his mission.

The same very much relates to us. We might wonder what God is up to in the midst of this pandemic and what his plan is to restore Uganda’s economy. When we are to focus on what God is up to in us – what he is trying to accomplish in us and how we can continue to live on his mission to further it in the midst of this pandemic.

The topic of discipleship is more relevant to us now more than ever. We have been thrown off our normal. And it is good. The question is – how are we to make disciples if there are no gatherings, prayer meetings and classes?

The good news is that discipleship is not about gatherings and classes. Though those aren’t bad. Discipleship is about living life together and pointing one another to Christ. Isn’t that exactly what the world needs right now? It needs us to be faithful to point them to Jesus, so to make disciples. Our brothers and sisters need us to be faithful to who we are and encourage one another to follow Christ and keep our eyes on him in this difficult time. Discipleship isn’t a class it’s relationship that helps us grow in Christ to be better followers.

What should motivate us to make disciples?

Sometimes we can be motivated by guilt, pride, jealousy. Paul is motivated by two things:

1 The fear of people dying without knowing Christ

2 Corinthians 5:10-11 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. 11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.

2 The love for Christ and people

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

And this love isn’t because they are such good people. But because of the gospel that they believed and God who is love now dwell in them.

1 Thessalonians 2:8 “Being so affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.”

Romans 9:3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.

How can we make disciples?

I think there are more opportunities than we sometimes ready to explore. We want authentic communities, but aren’t ready to be open and sincere. We want to see change in this world. We want to see the church do what it is called to do, leaders to be raised and churches planted, but aren’t ready to pour ourselves out for the sake of others.

As this season didn’t catch God by surprise, he already prepared good works for you to carry out. Which by the way he predestined before the creation of the world Ephesians 2:10. These works will bring him as much glory as anything “great” you could do under normal circumstances, outside of quarantine. He sees things differently from us and he uses our every day faithfulness even in mundane to work out grate things.

  • Think of Noah for years, day in and day out, building a boat in spite of being ridiculed
  • Think of Joseph’ faithfulness in slavery
  • Moses for decades leading stiff-necked people, day in day out
  • Widow who gave her last to share meal with Elijah (1 Kings 17:7-16)
  • Generosity of a church in Philippi that didn’t seem to have much, but tremendously contributed to the spread of the gospel
  • Believers who throughout the generations entertained angles without even knowing it (Hebrews 13:2)

Hebrews 11:16 But as it is, they desire a better country, (talking about their motivation to last through the mundane) that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

So, how can we do it today?

  • Think of people around you
  • Pray for them
  • Your family, all this time you have with your spouse and kids to disciple
  • The acts of service you can do to your neighbour
  • The phone call you can make or SMS to send to encourage, read Scripture and pray with your brother or sister
  • Message to record and send
  • To care for those in need

“I’m sending you as the Father has sent me” (John 20:21). Today Jesus tells these words to every one of us.

Consider his mission. Painful, humiliating, hard, sorrowful, but glorious at the end.

And sometime we want to say “Wait, wait, wait. I’m not ready yet. I’m too busy. There is no time for it right now. There are more important things to do. I’m too stressed. I myself need help and care how can I help others. This is not my calling. Send someone else.”

Don’t panic. Abide in the vine. Produce the fruit.

John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Let this be an overflow of your relationship, pursuit and passion for Christ. First of all we are Jesus’ disciples we are sons and daughters of God.

2 Corinthians 6:11-13 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. 12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. 13 In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also.

There is nothing that constrains you apart from your own affections. Check your heart. And let your affections be directed to Christ.

Don’t receive the grace in vain.

2 Corinthians 5:21-6:2 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 1 Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says,

“In a favorable time I listened to you,

and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”

Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. Find your life in Christ and direct others to him.

 

Let’s pray through this passage for ourselves and the church

Ephesians 1:17-23 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.