Why I picked up this book:
Since I write book reviews, I normally receive new releases from publishing houses. I don’t get to read all of them, but I normally prioritize the ones that are directly linked to my ministry focus areas, or I select the resources that provide a fresh perspective. In this day, I also find it particularly important to intentionally read Christian books that are written by leaders are who people of color.
I care about discipleship, and this NavPress book was written by a person of color, who is well read, trained, and experienced in pastoral ministry. That is how this resource worked its way to the top of my reading pile.
Who Should Read Discipled by Jesus:
Anyone who is looking for the old way. I don’t mean that negatively. I mean it as a matter of fact. There is nothing new under the sun. I find that many of the fundamentals of our faith are tested and remain true. If we want to know how to persevere in our faith, then it’s a good idea to look to Jesus and discern what his first disciples would have understood about what it meant to follow him.
What’s in Store for You:
With this resource, author and pastor, Robert Gelinas, is clearly going against the grain of the “normal way” of doing “church” and making disciples. Our modern understanding of discipleship includes Bible studies, church programming, and maybe some teaching. However, real life transformation does not take place unless there is a direct and indeed continuous encounters with the living Jesus.
He writes quite simply, “Jesus—as I will argue in this book—is still personally discipling people today.” With chapter titles like: “Embracing Jesus as Your Pastor” and “Choosing Jesus as Your Teacher,” he writes about the intimacy that takes place between Jesus and those who become his disciples. Throughout the book he discusses discipleship myths, and some misunderstandings of how we view passages like Matthew 28:19.
Pastor Gelinas gives great testimonies throughout of his personal longings, spiritual encounters, and transformative moments. He introduces a few disciplines that might not be as familiar to some readers; therefore, I wish he would have offered more practical explanations of “how” and “why” to enter into those disciples. Spiritual disciplines often take time to cultivate, and part of the spiritual transformation is how the Holy Spirit prompts our hearts through our life experiences to enter into them. Once someone is convicted or drawn by the Holy Spirit, they might not always know how to respond.
My personal take-aways?
This is what Pastor Gelinas and I have in common: Our hearts burn for people to come in contact, have a real relationship with, and be transformed by Jesus. A disciple is a student or follower, so the idea is not simply to get folks to make a profession or join your church. The kingdom idea is to invite people to become a student and follower of Jesus. If we are students and followers of Jesus, then we become peers to those who are also on the faith journey with us.
I love that Pastor Gelinas constantly reminds readers that Jesus is alive! He was, is, and is to come. Since Jesus is alive, he can speak to us and we can speak to him right now. We don’t have to wait on the pastor, small group leader, prophet or priest. We can go to Jesus directly for ourselves. He is our good shepherd, and as the author notes: “Your identity will forever change when you see yourself as the one whom Jesus carries joyfully on his shoulders…We want non-Christians to know that it’s possible for them to have a personal relationship with the God of the universe.”
I was inspired, convicted, and prayed over Pastor Gelinas’s understanding of the common characteristics of the original disciples of Jesus. They were:
On any given day, I follow Jesus in some of these ways. I know that I am not always prayer-dependent or grace-centered. For these, and all things, we need the Lord’s help.
“Jesus is saying, ‘Here’s what I want you to do. Go enroll people in school with me as their rabbi. I will be their teacher.’ We make disciples when we make students of Jesus.” Robert Gelinas
“If the great commission is actually a great co-mission, then when Jesus says, ‘go make disciples,” he is actually saying, ‘Let US go and make disciples. We’re doing this together. You are not on your own.’” Robert Gelinas
“The preponderance of Christians do not have a working knowledge of the Bible, a commitment to the mission of the church, or a wallet that already demonstrates Kingdom generosity. Therefore, it is essential that churches spend a great deal of their resources to get their people up to speed on the basic discipleship prerequisites.” Robert Gelinas
“Following Jesus isn’t just doing what he said; it’s doing what he is saying.” @RobertRGelinas
“Discipleship is a direct, one-on-one relationship in which we are called by, led by, filled by, and taught by Jesus himself.” @RobertRGelinas
“Church is to be the place and the people that prepare you to be discipled by Jesus himself.” @RobertRGelinas
Next Up on this Topic:
“Living in Christ’s Presence: Final Words on Heaven and the Kingdom of God” by Dallas Willard
© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2018