The Many Faces
by Barry Long
The morning starts like any other. You wake up, get your early cup of coffee, swing by and pick up your brother, and head down to the sea to begin the daily task of fishing. Sure, it is your livelihood, but it is also something you enjoy, and you are good at it. You and your brother Andrew launch the boat into the sea with coffee in hand and nets ready to cast. You discuss the previous day’s tremendous catch and hope for another good day. As the morning wears on, you go about your business of fishing. You laugh and joke between each cast of the nets. But don’t be deceived. This day is not like any other day.
As you row in to empty your catch, you notice Someone on the shore. He catches your eye, and you know you have seen Him before. He speaks, and you hang on every word! Something seems to surge inside you as He calls you to follow Him. You know this man because Andrew introduced you to Him before. You have heard His teachings, but you were unwilling to let go of the familiar—the sea, the nets, the good-natured humor of other fishermen. This time, however, you hear His call and you know you must follow Him!
Can’t you just see Peter and Andrew step from their boats with a determination to follow Christ? Their hearts racing, palms sweaty, anticipating an incredible, life-changing experience. With deep compassion, Christ looks at them and says, “You’ve made a wise choice; you will not regret it.” With that, He leaves without instructions. He walks away, and they never see Him again.
In contrast, after Jesus called His disciples, He spent the next three years teaching them, training them, correcting them, challenging them, and sometimes even provoking them as He taught them what it really means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
While it is ludicrous to consider Christ walking away from His new disciples, many churches and Christians do this to new believers on a regular basis. They treat discipleship as though it stops with a salvation decision. Without clear direction, new believers struggle to find their way in their walk with Christ.
What would Peter and Andrew have thought if Christ had simply left them standing beside their boats as willing but ill-equipped disciples? Thankfully, He didn’t. Instead, He gave them clear directions that culminated with His last command in Matthew 28:19: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
When I look at the way Christ lived before His disciples, I notice one major thing—an investment. Making disciples is about investing your time, your life into theirs. Not so they can dress like you or act like you, but so they can begin to know and understand what it means to live like Christ.
Making disciples is about investing your time, your life into theirs. Not so they can dress like you or act like you, but so they can begin to know and understand what it means to live like Christ.
Discipleship is not easy and is sometimes even painful. After all, when you pour your life into someone, you become vulnerable. But vulnerability and openness is at the core of true discipleship. It is investing your life, your time, and even your resources into teaching others to be like Christ.
Even Christ was hurt by those closest to Him. Remember the story in Matthew 26 when He asked them to pray with Him? Can you imagine the hurt and maybe even the frustration Christ felt when He returned to find them asleep? Yet, Christ still invested in them. He knew what they could and would become.
The same is true for you. Who knows, that person you pour yourself into could be the next worker in the church to have a great eternal impact. Sure, you risk being hurt along the way, and yes, you might experience disappointment; but think of the joy you will receive when you see them invest in others. Who have you invested in? As Christians, we are called—just like Andrew and Peter—to be “fishers of men,” molding and making disciples. It’s an eternal investment, one you will never regret.
About the Writer: Barry Long and family are home missionaries in Aurora, Colorado. Learn more: HomeMissions.net