I don’t know why I asked, but I did.
“In this season of healing from adultery, should I take a break from all types of ministry altogether? What does that look like?”
My husband and I were in the midst of marriage counseling with my pastor and his wife. We had been reading through the Purity Principle and Sacred Marriage, but it was clear our times would be coming to a close soon.
“You are a believer, and I affirm that. All believers are called to make disciples.”
I accepted that with a childlike faith, not realizing how radical his words actually were.
In this current climate of the religious who have twisted the Christian faith and made it into a cultural expression of rules and regulations, adulterers are chaff. In the eyes of the religious, many would claim that adulterers have proven God can never really use them because they sinned in such a way that can never be forgiven.
That belief is anti-Gospel because it triumphs an ideology that God does not change people. How do I know this? Because I am a living, breathing, walking example of His grace.
Should someone who has a dark past be making disciples for Jesus?
Absolutely. If we are walking in repentance and their faith community affirms them as believers, yes, we totally should be making disciples lest we be disobedient to even more scripture.
Many might avoid disciple-making by thinking, “God might have called them to do that, but I’m not called to live like that,” or, “Jesus was saying that to his apostles. He didn’t say that to everyone.”
If you have thought this, I pray that you will read Matthew 28:16-20 with new eyes:
Here’s the full text from the ESV:
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
If we step back from this and not take it literally, but taking the argument that Jesus gave this command to the apostles only, we would still come to the same conclusion that making disciples is for everyone.
Jesus says in verse 20 to teach them “to observe all that I have commanded you.” Well, is the Great Commission a command that Jesus has given them? If they are to fulfill this command, they would need to also teach their next disciples to make disciples, or else they’re not actually fulfilling verse 20.
If we’re going to be picky and say maybe Jesus was talking about every command before this specific command, then we look to Matthew 10:1-15, where Jesus gives his twelve apostles authority and then sends them out to proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Proclaiming that the kingdom of heaven is at hand is asking people to turn from their sins and to follow Jesus.
After the Gospels, the New Testament is brimming full of instructions to live according to the holiness and love God has exemplified through Jesus and to make disciples through proclaiming the good news and doing good works.
The whole book of Acts is a record of the disciples and their disciples fulfilling this very command through the work of the Holy Spirit. Romans is a buttress of the Gospel’s theological implications for the Jew and Gentile, along with instructions for holy living and proclaiming the feet of those who bare the good news to be beautiful (Romans 10:14-17).
I could go on, but really the question I believe for all believers is not if we should or should not make disciples.
I think the question is “How?”
How can we, in our sin and problems and life circumstances, muster the courage to share the good news of Jesus Christ and His grace?
Your story may not be squeaky clean. You may have messed up recently at work or with your family.
God can still use you for His purposes.
God can still use you for His purposes.
That’s why Jesus gave us two promises sandwiching this charge. First, he has been given every authority in heaven and on earth, and secondly, he is with us to the end of the age.
We can trust him.
In my own life, I start by simply sharing with a friend my story, which is packed of both sin and triumph in Jesus. My story of adultery doesn’t negate me from God’s plan. In fact, it was in my weakness that the grace of God shined brightest.
I then ask if they want to know more about my hope in Jesus, or if they would like to study the Bible together. If not, that’s OK. I keep serving and pointing them to my hope in Him alone. Sometimes they change their minds, and sometimes the relationship continues for years without change.
If you’ve ever felt unworthy, afraid, or exempt from making disciples, let me be the one to tell you that if you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, if you have repented and turned from your old ways, then you, my dear friend, have an incredible story to tell others. You, yes you, are called to make disciples.
Let’s get to work.
Originally from the South but now in China, Vanessa Jencks has experienced homelessness, poverty, sexual abuse, racism, miscarriage, and other hardships. She seeks to help other women lay aside all other weights and pursue Christ in everything that matters in this momentary life. Meet her at VanessaJencks.com.