No Shortcuts – No Coercion

The apostles came back and told Jesus everything they had done. Then he took them away with him privately to a city called Bethsaida. But the crowds found out about this and followed him. He welcomed them and began to speak to them about the kingdom of God and to heal those who needed healing.       – Luke 9:10-11 (ISV)

Jesus is walking around outside the city. He’s talking to His disciples. He hasn’t put out flyers or sent runners to announce his arrival. He didn’t even bribe the people with food! How and why did “crowds” come?

My son-in-law loves to be on the streets, keeping his eyes open for possibilities to meet people and share about Jesus in his life. When he takes others with him, he emphasizes that it’s about getting to know people. It’s not about judging, getting them to fill out a Commitment Card or even building numbers in the local church. It’s about introducing them to Jesus and allowing Him to do what He did so well in Galilee and continues to do today – build a relationship.

We, the Church, have tried many methods and programs over the centuries. They haven’t been without merit but I believe that our goal has been incorrect. Jesus said we are to “make disciples,” not just convert unbelievers to believers. Paul said we are to have more than just a minimal relationship with God (be milk drinkers). We are to grow into maturity.

Making disciples requires commitment and being in ministry and service to others long after the “fun” season ends. Living my life as a disciple-maker means it is my life! Everything that I do is about strengthening my own spiritual health so that I can in turn encourage someone else.

Let us not coerce others toward Jesus but instead make Him available wherever they are; not misrepresenting Him but instead living our lives like an unsmudged picture window revealing Jesus’ Gospel.

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