The Heart of Discipling - Mikayla Reid

New guest writer Mikayla writes a beautiful article reflecting on the heart of a discipling. She emphasizes the importance of relationship and love in sharing the good news, and reminds us that it is only through Jesus that we can transform into disciple-makers.

A couple of weeks ago, I met up with one of my friends for lunch. We usually talk about uni, jobs and the frustrations of group assignments. But in the middle of lunch, in a throwaway comment, she mentioned that she’d been down since COVID, feeling that nothing was the same.

I think she expected me to agree and move on, but I knew if she’d brought it up, it was important. I questioned her a bit more and listened as she told me about her struggles.

I was able to sit and listen to my friend while having the privilege of showing a small bit of the love Jesus had for her and openly showing what life with Jesus meant for me. God opened a door so his love for her could begin to be shown.

And at this moment I wasn’t focused on what I had to say and getting her to convert right away, instead, I spent time being with her.

When talking to others about God, we need the heart behind the action. We can say all the right things and check off our lists, but without having love behind it, we will get nowhere.

Jesus loved the tax collector

In Mark, 2:13-17. Jesus meets a tax collector called Levi and asks to go back to his house for dinner where other tax collectors and sinners join him. I imagine that Jesus had a lot he could have said to these tax collectors, but instead, he sat with them, had dinner with them, loved them, treated them as his valued children and met them where they were.

Jesus did not choose to preach at these people who he knew were in the wrong; instead, he showed them the love and life he could offer them, by sitting and eating with them.

These actions speak so much louder than words, Jesus could have said all he wanted about God's love, but instead, he showed this love in a tangible way, which gets their attention, they turn and listen without him saying a word.

When talking to others about God, we need the heart behind the action. We can say all the right things and check off our lists, but without having love behind it, we will get nowhere.

There are a few things we can learn from Jesus in this passage, and the most important is to love others. Not just those who you like those you would rather have nothing to do with.

How we can love others

No one said this is easy, but no one said we have to do it on our own either. 1 John chapter 4, verse 7 says ‘Let us love one another because love comes from God.’

The kind of love we need to show people is the same kind of supernatural kind that Jesus showed. This kind of love comes from God; it’s not something we are expected to have in our own power.

But it is this love that is so different from anything our broken world has to offer that draws people in, showing them that life with God might have something worthwhile. It is also what everything else flows from. It doesn’t matter how self-sacrificial we are, how open we are, how many people we talk to if love isn’t the driving force of those actions.

Meet people where they are

Secondly, we need to meet people where they are. In Mark chapter 16, verse 15, Jesus tells us to ‘go into the world and preach the gospel to all creation.’ He doesn’t ask us to wait for people to come to us, or talk to those closest to us only, he tells us to go into the world, where people are living their lives, and meet them there.

When we meet with people, we’re great at looking forward to where they should be or could be, and we don’t take the time to sit with them, where they are now, in their pain and joys, and get to know them.

When we know someone, it becomes easier to love them as we hear their story, and we can see their needs. This means we can engage and have a conversation with them, rather than speaking at them. We can talk into what they are facing right now and show them God’s love.

It’s all about relationship

And thirdly, we need to invite them into our life. Jesus' love for us was self-sacrificial. When he wanted to have a relationship with us, he laid his life out for it.

One of the most significant sacrifices we can make is inviting people into our lives, and showing them our authentic selves. We like to keep our guard up, it keeps us safe, we can project an image of confidence, someone who has it all together, but if we want to meet with people and get to know them, and love them, we need to pull down our walls.

We need to be able to show others what living with Christ looks like. That doesn’t mean what we reveal has to be perfect, it never is, life even with Jesus is messy, but when we are in that mess with Jesus, we have a hope that it will get better, and other people are drawn to this too.

These characteristics that define the heart of a disciple-maker can seem unachievable; they set a standard that we in our broken humanity can’t reach.

But God knows this.

He knows we aren’t perfect. But when we live in him, and have the Holy Spirit living in us and continually try to achieve this, our hearts can’t help but change too.

While we might not meet these lofty expectations all the time, if we continue to try and meet them our habits and our heart change, until we are no longer trying to have the heart of a disciple-maker, we just do.

Mikayla Reid is studying nursing at The University of Auckland and is starting to get her ideas about God and His love for us on paper. She loves reading, beach walks and cups of tea. // Photo: Caleb van Essen

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