Being and making disciples – some myths 4

The fourth myth I would like to highlight is that discipleship is something we do on our own. There seems to be an idea that there exists the role of discipler and the role of disciple: a 1-2-1 relationship.

There are several reasons to dismiss this myth, the main one being that in Matthew 28:18-20 the disciples are told to “go and make disciples of all the nations”. The word nation is the Greek word “ethne”. It does not describe a nation state but rather an ethnolinguistic group. This concept has been used to organize missionary activity and is the concept behind the idea of the 10/40 window. I don’t want to argue for or against this; maybe another time. What I want to demonstrate, however, that discipleship can only really be done in community.

If I am right that the purpose of discipleship is to “teach them to obey” then obedience is not a solitary activity; it is always in the context of relationships. We can only obey God in relationship with the other. Being a Christian disciple is to be in relationship; not only with God, but also with others.

In another context, Paul prays for the Ephesian Christians that they “may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:18-19). It is only in community we can be disciples and make disciples and thereby experience his love.