~By: Susanna Kozlow~
I clearly remember the day that someone noticed. It was just different. I was very used to someone asking me about my kids, as I picked up my daughter from VPK and carried my infant in a huge car seat I hardly managed gracefully, or someone asking me about the makeup I spent time putting on, that I continue to love, or the shoes I proudly put on my feet, announcing to the world I just had a baby, but that my life certainly had not stopped.
But...this was different. Someone noticed me, Susanna, for a completely different reason. And, as we know as Christ followers, the Holy Spirit usually has a different agenda. When a vessel of Jesus is being used, that is when He goes to work.
It’s been five years since I received that card (pictured in the photo). As I write this, I cannot help but feel an emotion that pierces every ounce of my being. That invite opened a door to the freedom I can speak of today. Why? Because someone saw me, noticed me, and said "Hey, you, I see you....Will you join me?" What I didn't realize at the time was that she was a vessel - a disciple of Jesus Christ asking me to follow her as she followed Jesus Christ, in mission, His mission. And right there, discipleship began.
Sometimes we seem to make things very complicated as we speak on discipleship or try to learn how to disciple others. I truly believe if we can get to the place where we begin to notice others, we will begin to see all God can do through us. When we are open in obedience to be used, we begin to notice people. We HAVE to begin seeing people as God sees people. We HAVE to love people enough to get involved.
Currently, I am teaching a class on the subject of ‘How to Make Disciples.’ Disciple making is a foreign mandate to many Christians, and I just find that very odd and so very sad. We have seemed to take Jesus' commands in Scripture and chosen to discuss one here and there, but not the other. We stop at one, and ignore the other. As frustrated as I may feel at times, I know without a doubt the Body of Christ is FILLED with lovers of Jesus. They fill our Bible studies and our churches. They are just waiting for someone to notice - someone to say, "Hey you, I see you. Will you join me as I follow Jesus on His Mission?" Our Christian culture has made spectators and consumers, but not ambassadors of Jesus Christ for the Kingdom of God. This is a culture that needs its lenses to change to see that proclaiming Jesus as Lord means actually DOING what He has mandated us to do. This is why He died for us and why He was raised from the dead.
We pray countless hours, we attend church every week, and we get involved in Bible studies. We serve in various arenas in our churches. We ask God to bless our lives, protect our children, and help us forgive those that have hurt us. These are all amazing things in the life of a Christian, but when does it expand outwards? When does it begin to shift to all we can SHARE with one another, and not only be all about what we can gain? When will we stop thinking that Jesus died only for 'ME?’ When will we understand that the Kingdom of God is here, now, and we, Christians, Ambassadors of Jesus, play a role in contributing to it and expanding it?
Let’s be honest, we are not winning anyone for Jesus by perfecting our own lives while ignoring others. We preach this to our kids all day long. Don't ignore others. Make people feel included. People will always remember how you made them feel. Sometimes, it’s just noticing them. So, as Christians, how much of an impact can we make when we can notice another for the purpose of Jesus Christ and for the glory of God here on earth?
If we are Disciples of Christ, then we are to go out and make Disciples of Christ. It’s not a secret formula. Jesus tells us the ‘how to’ in Scripture. Jesus' ministry when He walked this earth is clear. We have to invest in the lives of others, building relationships, and if God has given you a platform, you must remember that platform doesn't belong to you. It belongs to the Creator of that platform, God, for the purpose of bringing others up onto that platform.
The questions don't change as I recap the class I’m teaching and find pieces I can add. I have a class filled with women who come week after week because they want to really know, "How do I make Disciples?" Understanding that the Great Commandment and the Great Commission go together is really where it all begins.
Matthew 22:37-39: "Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’"
When we love God with EVERYTHING we are and EVERYTHING we have in our lives, then we will know how to love our neighbor like ourselves. It’s a sacrificial love. When we love our neighbor like we love ourselves, then we begin to see that Jesus is not only about "me." We in turn can then follow the Great Commission:
Matthew 28:18-20: "Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
So today, I can't help but wonder that if someone didn't take the time to notice me and invite me to join her to attend a training ministry that gave me a chance to try, where would I be today? How much more time would I have wasted? How many more years would I have spent accepting Jesus as my Savior, but never as my Lord?
As I pray today, I pray we, Christians, begin to notice people and that we get involved in others’ lives. We must remember that we are laborers of the Harvest, and we are not called to just sit in the Harvest and enjoy it. We must multiply in the Kingdom of God. We have to be able to teach others how to do the same. And right there....that's discipleship. There is no doubt that people are hurting, and they want to believe they matter. We have to know that they DO matter, they matter to God, and if we serve God, they matter to us.