What did Jesus intend for his “disciples”?

After Jesus had completed all that he intended to do on earth “in the days of his flesh,” he left his little group of apprentices or “disciples” to keep on doing what he had been doing while he was with them, but now they were to do it worldwide. He told them to “make disciples of all nations” (all kinds of people) and to “teach them to obey everything” he had commanded them (Matt. 28:18–20). He told them to go to all the world (Greek kosmon) and announce the good news to all creation (Mark 16:15). The vision and the task were now cosmic.

How are we to think about this task that Jesus set before his little troop? The greatest danger for us now is that we will think too small, that we will think about it in terms of what we know from contemporary “visible” Christianity—churches, denominations, and so forth—and in terms of the political organization of the current world. Above all, perhaps, we must not think of the task as one of making adherents to a particular brand of Christianity now current. If we do, we will then lose the cosmic viewpoint and see the task only in terms of religious organizations and political realities. Jesus, however, did not send his people out to make Christians or to start churches as we understand them today. He sent them to make disciples (students, apprentices) to him and, supported by his presence, to teach them all that he had taught by word and deed. That is a very different type of enterprise!

From Knowing Christ Today: Why We Can Trust Spiritual Knowledge. Copyright © 2009 by Dallas Willard. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

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