The second factor common among rapidly-multiplying disciple-making movements around the world is authentic community founded and centered on Jesus.
A disciple made in the image of Jesus will also be joined to the community that follows Him. Jesus never called anyone to follow Him who he didn’t also call to into His Church, the body of His disciples who together constitute the living, walking tangible expression of His kingdom coming on earth.
Authentic Christian community (be it in the smallest possible unit of the church anywhere in the world—the two or three disciples gathered, or in her larger settings) is focused only on one thing: being truly aligned with the revealed will and heart of Jesus, her King and Lord.
Paul makes the point in 1 Corinthians 3:11 that there can be only one foundation for authentic Christian community: Jesus!
If the foundation of a building is weak, it is structurally unsound. It would then matter little if the building was a towering sky-scraper or a humble wooden hut. Both are in danger of spectacular falls in moments of great disaster. Discipleship, individually and corporately, must be rest on Jesus alone if it is to stand the test of time and tide.
The sign of such authentic Jesus-centered community is that we love one another.
In John 13:35, as NAMS Servant General Jon Shuler often points out, we have one of the few records in the Gospels where Jesus actually defines what his disciples will be or do. Here, Jesus states clearly that his disciples will love the community of faith they are planted in.
Indeed, Jesus goes on to say that all people will know we are Jesus’ disciples by our love for one another. I knew a Japanese Christian who came to faith in his home country when he happened to visit an Anglican church there and was struck by how much the Christians both welcomed him in and loved each other. It was only a matter of time before he became one of them.
The disciples’ love and loyalty to Jesus must be matched by an equally dedicated love for one another. At the NAMS Asia Regional Retreat this August past, I was meditating in a time of quiet reflection on 1 John 5. The first verse really convicted me: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of Him.” We cannot be born of God and not love God’s people. There are no exceptions to the “whoever” of verse 1.
What’s more, authentic community will hold firm the plumb line of God’s truth as reality-defining, refusing to bend and shift along to changing cultural mores, popular fads and the spirit of the age. At the same time, it will be a community of grace, stooping down to lift up the oppressed, the poor, the cast-away, and the unwanted—a friend of sinners like her Lord and a community like nothing earth can provide.
Wherever disciple-making disciples seek to spread the Gospel and the Kingdom you will also find such authentic Christian communities planted, watered, and multiplied.
— Manik Corea.
All Nations Bangkok Team Leader,
NAMS South-East Asia