By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross
There’s no way out.
Once you answer God’s call into ministry, I’ve realized there’s no way to back out again.
We can argue the finer points of this; that there are times someone like a pastor is asked to step down from preaching. But that pastor, whatever mistake he has made, is not released from telling others about Jesus.
The Great Commission often comes up in studies. It’s a command from Jesus to go into the world and teach others about him.
Matthew 4:19-20 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.
This was the moment in the Bible when Jesus called the first disciples. In it’s simplest term, a disciple is someone who follows Christ.
Ranching and farming or being a rodeo competitor can be seen as jobs and careers but they are also ways of life. Because it’s such a way of life for us, it makes it hard to walk away from it. We still can though. We can sell the ranch or farm and retire to a tropical beach or we can retire our horse and no longer call in to the rodeos in order to have time with our growing families. Whatever the reason, we can still leave.
Being a Christian is a lifestyle. We are forever changed by the salvation we receive through Jesus, no longer seen by God as sinners. While God sees us as perfect, we still mess up, we still sin and we still make mistakes but we also experience a desire to become more like Jesus and to live out the instructions he gave to us.
Romans 14:8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.
Whether we turn to Jesus or not, we belong to God but it’s through Jesus that we can spend an eternity with God in Heaven. Before our final day here though, when our salvation is real, we start following Jesus’ commands.
While we can walk away from our rodeo or ranching lifestyles, however hard that is to do, we can’t walk away from Jesus’s call on our lives. What we too often seen in our Christian communities is people ignoring this call. We know what we’re supposed to do, but few of us put down our nets and simply follow Jesus and his commands.
We can ignore or avoid it, but the Great Commission that directs us to tell others about Jesus, never ceases to be something we’re commanded. Yet some of us make it through this life without having ever told someone else about our saving faith in Jesus. There’s someone out there you can tell right now. Put down your net and tell them. We’ve started a monthly video series here at CowboysOfTheCross.com to help you understand discipleship. Look for the heading Riding for the Brand.
Part 7 of 7 The Company You Keep
By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross
The cowboy crowd in particular doesn’t seem to be fans of being told what to do.
But one of the reasons we’re asked to be intentional about who we spend time with is because of Jesus’s command we know as The Great Commission.
Matthew 28:19-20“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.”
Being surrounded by like-minded and experienced Christians can help us grow in our faith and can help us stay strong as we interact with the world around us to tell them about Jesus.
It’s one of a handful of very specific commands that Jesus gives along with a command to love others.
One of the most loving things we can do is tell them about Jesus.
As Christians, followers of Christ, we know that our sin separates us from God and that God is going to condemn it. We also know he made a way for all of us to be in His presence and that was through the death of Jesus on the cross. Jesus came to live perfectly among us but most importantly to be sacrificed to take the punishment meant for our sin so we could enter into Heaven and be with God.
God won’t let us in our presence as sinners but through a faith in Jesus, who he was and what he did for us on the cross and by repenting of our sin and asking to be forgiven of it, God will no longer see the sin our lives. Instead, He sees us as perfect.
Anyone who works with bulls, cattle or horses knows how easy it can be to be brought to sin in the form of anger so we rely on what we understand as grace—God’s forgiveness even though we don’t deserve it. We can’t earn it, we can only receive it from Jesus. But knowing we have this forgiveness should compel us to want others to have it too.
This is why as Christians, Jesus commands us to tell others about him but he also commands us to disciple others. As we are discipled, we also should be discipling others—teaching them what we know from Scripture.
We look back to earlier in Mark and see the work of being discipled begin.
Matthew 4:18-20 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.
The reason he called them to follow him was so that he could equip them to go out there and lead others to that saving faith in him so that they also could be trained and equipped. The very first disciple was called almost 2,000 years ago. You now being asked to do the same comes because someone shared the gospel and discipled me while somone else had shared the gospel and discipled that person and so on and so on stretching back all the way to that day Jesus called Peter and Andrew to walk away from their boats.
How cool is that?
Part 6 of 7 The Company You Keep
By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross
Just like bull riders will tell you that to get better, you want to be surrounded by better bull riders, we know that the Bible teaches us there are times we have to be careful who we tie ourselves to. If we spend all our time with unbelievers, we can see our own faith suffer. At the same time, we have to spend time with unbelievers in order to share the gospel with them—how to be saved from the punishment meant for our sin by a belief in Jesus Christ, repenting of our sin and asking to be forgiven.
But before we can worry about finding the balances there, we first need to become disciples.
John 8:31-32 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in Him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Jesus tells us that when we have truly become a Christian—a follower of Jesus—then we will ‘abide’ in his word. That means that we will live it out. Our desire to do that is the proof of our salvation.
While there is a lot to being a disciple that the average Christian seems to ignore throughout the New Testament, we know that in its simple form, a disciple is someone who follows Jesus.
In rodeo, most of us have successful cowboys and bull riders who we follow to learn their style, techniques and how they became successful.
Jesus tells us that we will live out his word but he knows we don’t immediately know or understand everything there is in the Bible.
That’s why, even though Jesus calls us disciples, we still need to be discipled.
The Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 tells his disciples to go into the world and make make more disciples with clear instructions to teach others about what Jesus taught them. That means right now, there are people out there with knowledge and wisdom we haven’t achieved yet who are following, or should be following, the command to make disciples. There are people we need to have teaching us what they know from the Bible.
At the same time, we read our Bibles on our own, attend church services, learn where we can and pray in order to learn and put to practice what it means to live out our faith.
And Jesus tells us it isn’t going to be easy.
Luke 9:23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
There can be a cost to following Jesus and while there is much we can study on being disciples and what it means to follow Jesus, we’re focused right now on making sure we have the right people in our lives to be successful followers of Christ.
By linking with other believers who are more mature and experienced in their faith than we are, we can be discipled by them while we also begin the process of teaching others about Jesus. As we learn, we teach, regardless of how experienced we are. If I’ve just started learning how to throw a rope and you teach me a better way to guide my loop to the roping dummy’s head, it doesn’t matter whether I’ve won a rodeo or even entered one; once you’ve taught me how to do that much, I can teach someone else that much too.
(Supporting photo of the Bible provided by John-Mark Smith of Lviv, Ukraine)