Have you ever moved from one home to another? There are few things I hate more than moving, but the part of moving I despise most is the cleanup work after moving in. You may know just what I mean: the last few boxes full of things that need to be put away, not to mention the endless cardboard and packing paper.
Shortly after moving from Northern Idaho to Houston, Texas, our garage was a complete mess and needed to be cleaned up and organized. I have four kids (two girls and two boys), and since they all were old enough to push a broom, they would help me clean out the garage as needed. I wanted to teach them to work and take on responsibilities, and this was a good way to do just that. Whether our garage spring cleaning or splitting and stacking wood for an Idaho winter, I included my kids in the work.
Responsibility and Trust
On one particular day, I asked my boys to go and get a head start on cleaning the garage. I also told them that I would soon join them. At the time they were 11 years old, so I thought, I want to see how they will do on their own for a bit.
Well, I sent them out and then stayed in the kitchen making sandwiches for lunch. Before I could even get the twisty-tie off the loaf of bread, I heard a scraping noise, accompanied by screaming and laughing.
Rushing out to the garage to see what was going on, I see one boy on his bike with a rope tied to his seat and his brother sitting in a plastic tote with one hand holding the rope and the other hand holding a broom. One brother was attempting to drag the other brother around the garage in some crazy bike-tow-drag-Zamboni sweep system they created.
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Our Command: Obedience and Imitation
I wonder if that is how Jesus views us sometimes. He gave us a command to go out and make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19–20), and he clearly demonstrated how to do so, yet the church has found itself in a broken, misdirected system.
If we are going to get the church back onto some kind of track that is obedient to what the King asked us to do, then my goodness, we must get back to what Jesus modeled. We must get back to what he clearly demonstrated for us in Scripture. We must be obedient to him and build a culture of disciple-making that actually results in the kind of disciples who resemble those of the New Testament.
When Paul went out to the church in Thessalonica, he did not create some new system that fit with his own creative dreams. We see in the Scriptures that Paul praised them for imitating him as they had imitated Christ (1 Thess. 1:5–6). The process of imitation simply demands obedience to the original example.
We live out our faith by fulfilling the commands Jesus gave us to do. A culture of disciple-making is created when we are being obedient to the call Jesus gave. To return to my metaphor, I can trust that our messy garage will be best cleaned when my boys clean it responsibly and clean it the way I have modeled for them.
Sometimes cleaning the garage is messy, dirty, difficult work, and sometimes Jesus’ methods are messy, difficult work. Even so, we do not have the right to take his process and put in whatever suits us best. We must obediently imitate the King in creating both a disciple-making culture and disciple-making disciples.
We have some cleaning to do!
Want to know more about how to cultivate disciple-makers? Check out Brandon Guindon’s book Disciple-Making Culture.