Sterile Christians are Contradictions: On The Art of Discipleship
- not able to produce
Contrast “sterile” with this…
A Christian is a disciple of Jesus who re-produces.
He produced us, and we are to reproduce ourselves.
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit” (John 15:1-5, NLT)
Jesus’ mission strategy was to reproduce disciples
Robert E. Coleman noted the unique relationship between Jesus and his disciples saying, “The purpose of both the vine (himself) and the branches (believers in him) was to bear fruit” (The Master Plan of Evangelism, 789). Jesus’ entire evangelistic strategy was to persuade his followers to make more followers. Yet we sometimes downgrade biblical fruit to include various works, effects, and other general successes, e.g. “I had some great conversations with my co-workers at lunch, there was much fruit,” or “my church has a bumpin’ singles ministry—so much fruit,” or “We just had a very fruitful smoothie outreach.” Eh…you get it.
But we’re being dishonest if we cheapen Jesus’ strategy to comprise anything less than freshly-made disciples! Jesus was calling us to reproduce disciples, not just get busy and productive!
Jesus devoted 3 years to only 12 guys
He was teaching them to reproduce themselves! This is so foreign to our culture’s motivation for numbers and crowds. His unswerving commitment to a few would result in over 20,000,000 disciples by 310 A.D. (Hirsch. The Forgotten Ways. p.18). This was how Jesus planned to build a church that would terrify hell itself (Matt. 16:18), by creating a few disciple-making disciples. It was what he staked his life on.
It is not enough to rescue the perishing, though this is imperative; nor is it sufficient to build up newborn babies in the faith of Christ, although this, too, is necessary if the firstfruit is to endure; in fact, it is not sufficient just to get them out winning souls, as commendable as this work may be. What really counts in the ultimate perpetuation of our work is the faithfulness with which our converts go and make leaders out of their converts, not simply more followers (Coleman, 826).
Jesus had no back-up plan
You’re looking at the best grassroots structure in the history of the world. The Lord of Heaven and Earth sought to win the world to himself by making twelve disciples, who would make more disciples of Jesus, who make more disciples of Jesus, etc. And this movement eventually reached you with the same basic plan—The reproduction of disciples. Fruit.
This means if we are not reproducing disciples, we are living lives that are inconsistent with what we believe and who we follow. We are sterile Christians….which makes about as much sense as a football bat.