Why did God create man? He did not need us. It was not because He was lonely. Long before we were here, God already had “company” with His Son and the Holy Spirit (Let us make man in our own image. Genesis 1:26a). Despite this fact, God chose to create us out of His great love. According to 1 John 4:8, ”God is love.” Because of His boundless love, He made us so we can enjoy all that He is and all that He has done.
Our Creator has an eternal plan and mankind plays a big role in His design. We have been called to love God with all of our heart, soul, and strength (Deut. 6:5). We have also been directed to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matt. 22:39). Love is the foundation of everything God does and expects us to model. Additionally,
“We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 (NASB).
When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, man’s relationship with his Creator changed. God is perfect, so when sin entered the world a great divide separated us from God, marring our fellowship with Him. But God foresaw sin and His eternal plan included a way to restore intimacy and relationship. God’s son, Jesus, took our sins and nailed them to a cross. By His death and resurrection, we have victory over the curse of death. It is God’s wish that all be saved with eternal citizenship in heaven. Our Great Commission in life is to spread the Good News and share the love of Christ with others.
Some would say that Jesus came to earth at the wrong time. We did not have social media two thousand years ago. It would have been a lot easier to witness and share with millions of people via the Internet and TV. Gaining followers would have been so much faster if Jesus had postponed His earthly presence to the year 2017. Right?
Today, there are megachurches and evangelists winning thousands of souls through televised crusades. Praise God for this increase! But, we should examine the Bible a bit closer and study exactly how Jesus gains followers. Yes, there is the Sermon on the Mount and several accounts of Jesus teaching the multitudes. However, He also selected a small number of just 12 disciples to mentor.
“And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles.” Luke 6:13 (NKJV)
These 12 men lived with Jesus. They ate together, traveled together, laughed and grieved together. He shared common goals, interests, problems, experiences, and values with His disciples. Jesus developed an intimate relationship with each one. He loved them for who they were and called them His friends. He built lasting relationships that transcended any barrier. He modeled every aspect of what he expected His followers to learn, become, and accomplish. He mentored His disciples so that they could one day take charge of His ministry.
“So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’” John 20:21 (NKJV)
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 (NKJV)
With love in His heart, Jesus focused more on their potential rather than on their weaknesses. Consider Peter’s denial and the Lord’s command, “Feed My sheep!” Jesus cultivated mental, spiritual, behavioral character development with balanced instruction and practical applications. Mentoring others without providing opportunities to lead will slow spiritual growth.
Jesus gave us a loving example of discipleship. His mentoring involved a committed relationship that involved people 24 hours a day. If God were merely a single person, as Jews and Muslims believe, He would be entirely self-centered. But the Trinity is real, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God created us in His image and we need/desire relationships.
The Biblical Counseling Foundation (Self-Confrontation Bible Study) writes about the wisdom of God’s plan for reaching the world. They compare the concept of “reaching by adding” and “reaching by multiplying.” The adding plan would use social media to add 100,000 converts every day. By the end of one year 36 million people would be saved. In just 32 years there would be over 1 billion converts.
The “reaching by multiplying” plan would start off slowly as one mentor would disciple someone for an entire year. The goal is that the disciple would then take another soul under his wing, mentor and equip him for a year in order to repeat the process over and over.
The increase by multiplying plan grows slowly at first but has great potential. In the first three years (Double: 2,4,8) there would only be 8 converts compared to the 109 million new believers gained by the reaching by adding plan.
But in just 32 years, the numbers of the increase by multiplying plan far surpasses the reaching by adding plan. In fact, although the reaching by adding plan gains an impressive 1 billion converts, the increase by multiplying plan gains 4.3 billion new believers! The in-depth discipleship that Jesus taught is key to spreading the Gospel because it keeps the spiritual reproduction going from generation to generation.
I hope this devotional inspires you to mentor your own “Timothy.” Paul followed Christ’s example of building one-on-one personal relationships. He discipled Timothy and Barnabas, who in turn led many to Christ. Ask God to give you the love, wisdom, and Spirit-filled enabling to build lasting relationships with your disciples that will be multiplied in their disciples.