One of my favorite poems is “The Fence that Me and Shorty Built” by Red Stegall. Its about the lesson a young man learns while putting up fence. Putting up a crooked fence is a lot simpler and quicker than it is to put up a straight one, but it ain’t right. The poem is really about hard work, perseverance, and that it takes time invested to do things correctly, as Shorty explains.
I recently started a book called “The Great Omission” by Dallas Willard. Instead of the Great Commission of Matthew 28.18-20, to “go and make disciples…”, Willard notes that we have omitted the word “disciples” from Jesus words and instead made christians who don’t commit, believers with no depth, and church people who refuse to sacrifice. He notes that discipleship, the act of obediently following Jesus to whatever end he calls us to, is going extinct in the Church. As I thought about this observation today, I came up with a couple reasons why I think discipleship is on the decline.
The first is time. In life we treat time as the greatest currency. We get angry when YouTube doesn’t load fast enough. Walmart lines will be the death of us. That is what working with horses, dogs, and cattle teaches me everytime. Though I am on a schedule, with a limited amount of time, they seem to care little about my to do list or wasting my time. Discipleship is the same way. When following Christ, there is no short cut, no fast way. It takes time. We neglect discipleship because it doesn’t neatly fit into our fast paced lives. Jesus spent 3 years pouring into his disciples daily, but we plan to do it in 45 minutes on a sunday morning or hour on a Tuesday night. I make myself too busy to disciple someone.
The second is commitment. Not on the part of the disciple, but the discipler. Ashamedly, my spare time is sometimes to valuable to spend it on helping someone to look more like Christ, to follow him more closely, and to think about people like he did. When it comes down to it, I neglect a 15 minute drive into town for coffee just to see how someone is doing. I pick up a rodeo, go ride horses, or put up fence, instead of challenging, investing, and encouraging someone’s walk with Jesus. Jesus’ three years with these guys was punctuated by desertion and denial. But his disicples would take the gospel to the ends of the earth. Three years is a long time to invest in someone but in light of eternity, it is well worth it. I know the math in my head, but my heart doesn’t follow.
I want to be a disciple who disciples. I want to be the kind of guy who pours his life into younger believers, but these two things stand in my way. Both problems that I have complete control over. I, like the rest of the Church, need to set aside our time and make the commitment to disciple newer believers.