As I’ve been getting ready to go to Romania, I’ve found myself from time to time thinking through the last 8 years here in the River Valley. Sometimes, I find myself reminiscing, thinking about the kids I worked with who are now grown up. Other times, I think about what I would have done different. Other times, I think about how I’ve changed.
Tonight, I looked through my prayer letters, going all the way back to 2004 when I first started working here in Spring Green. (I’m planning to put a section in my next month’s letter titled “8 years in review.”) It was good to look back through the things that God has done.
One thing stood out to me, though: it doesn’t really matter so much whether someone “prays a prayer,” “gets saved,” “receives Jesus,” “make a decision,” etc. What matters is whether he becomes a disciple. Jesus, after all, told us to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20); he didn’t say to go and get all nations saved. There’s a big difference. Getting someone to the place where they realize they need a savior is easy. All you have to do is scare him with threats of coming judgment, burning in hell, being abandoned by God… Or bombard him with the super abundant blessings of Jesus, from the peace to the joy to the power he gives those who belong to him. You can get anyone to pray a prayer if you say the right words or get him at the right time.
But a relationship with Jesus is not about praying a prayer; it’s about surrender. And surrender is only proven and built in discipleship.
In my eight years here, I have had many tell me they want Jesus. But I have seen very few people follow him as disciples.