I was just thinking about my dad. Jesse Mitchell was a quiet, hardworking man, a carpenter by trade. He “hired” me to help him when I was about 11 years old. Most of my work was cleaning up and toting lumber. When I was 12, we were remodeling an old church building, and one of the things most needed was paint. He took me to a Sunday School room and gave me a bucket of paint, a roller and pan, and a brush. He said, “Paint this room and I’ll be back to check on you later.” So I started painting.
As he said, he came back to check on me. Then Dad said, “You’ve done pretty well.” Then he handed me a single-edged razor blade. I asked, “What’s this for?” He said, “Now you can scrape all that paint you left on the windowpanes.” As I scraped, he began putting masking tape around the other panes not yet painted. He then told me to do the other windows the same and then paint the molding and I would not get paint on the glass. I then exclaimed, “Why didn’t you tell me that first?” His wise reply was simply, “Oh, now you’ll never forget!”
What a wise teacher. He allowed me to do things my way before showing me the right way. I think we can learn something from that lesson that was taught to me 64 years ago.
I feel certain the majority of our readers are familiar with what we usually refer to as The Great Commission. Jesus gave His directive to His 11 disciples prior to joining His Father on the throne in Heaven. I remind you of Christ’s Commission. He said, “…All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:18-20 NIV).
Note that Jesus told disciplesto make other disciples. This is a pattern for pupils, and it is goal-oriented. My dad was a carpenter whose goal was to make me a carpenter. What he taught me first was that, on my own, I had no clue what to do or how to properly accomplish it.
Churches Biggest Mistake
Some may take offense to this, but in our modern day, the churches are not doing something right. How do I know? It only takes a few minutes to research and find that, across the nation, New Testament churches are now leading people to Christ and baptizing them. Here’s the biggest mistake made with those who are saved and baptized — we are leaving new converts to themselves to try to make themselves disciples. In some cases, we truly leave them at the altar to fend for themselves.
A Lesson from an Ethiopian
Philip was one of the disciples who had been made a disciple by other disciples. He, along with six others, had been chosen to minister to the young church’s Grecian widows. Later, he became an evangelist. As he traveled to Gaza from Jerusalem, he met a very important official, an Ethiopian eunuch, who was reading from the writings of Isaiah. According to Acts 8:26-30, something wonderful transpired. Phillip asked a good question: “Do you understand what you are reading?” Here’s a lesson we can learn from that Ethiopian. “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” (Acts 8:30-31).
Philip could have said, “First thing you need to do is come visit our church. We have a great pastor, and you will learn a lot.” He could have said that…but he didn’t! Instead, he revealed what diligent discipleship is. After being invited to join the man in the chariot, Phillip realized the passage the man was reading was from Isaiah 53, which describes the Suffering Savior: “The eunuch asked Phillip, ‘Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?’ Then Phillip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus” (Acts 8:34-35). Phillip had been discipled, and what he had learned as a pupil became a pattern for us today. Disciples are to be diligent in making other disciples.
The account continued with evidence that Phillip taught the man the importance of knowing Christ as Savior and then following in baptism. The eunuch saw a body of water and immediately requested to be baptized.
The Effect of Discipleship
What I learned from my dad 64 years ago, I still utilize. I am glad he taught me well. After the eunuch was baptized, Philip was led by the Spirit elsewhere, but he left one very glad, very changed disciple. “…The eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:39).
Churches Must Make Disciples
I know that there is much mimicking today of other groups regarding “doing church.” So many have abandoned Sunday School and training ministry. However, while worship of the Lord God is paramount, discipleship is of tremendous importance according to our Lord Christ. Remember He said we are to be “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:20). Churches are made up of disciples who are to make disciples, who will make other disciples until Jesus comes again. That is the scriptural pattern for pupils who serve the Lord in obedience to His command.
Once again, that’s what I was just thinking. I hope you will think about it as well.