Sometimes I joke around about Christians taking over the world. That’s tongue and cheek, but I do believe we want to get as many people on the right side of history as we can. What I mean by that idea, getting “people on the right side of history,” is simply that we desire to persuade as many people as possible to become part of God’s family through faith in Jesus. In other words, we are eager to recruit followers for Christ.
Now, the idea of recruitment can raise a lot of different images. Sometimes I have a negative view of recruiters, particularly military recruiters. I remember how awesome they made the military look when sitting in an Army recruiter’s office in 1999. They took a nineteen-year-old kid and put tanks, machine guns, and a good bit of money in front of him like a carrot dangling in front of a rabbit. That kid (i.e. me) jumped. I signed on the dotted line. A few months later, sitting in my bunk in boot camp, I wasn’t sure those recruiters back in Eastern Kentucky had told me the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Looking back almost twenty years later (and after twelve years of military service), I’m sure they left a few things out of their presentation.
So, when I use the language of recruitment, I’m aware of some negative connotations. However, the idea connects nicely to the commission Jesus gives his people (Matt 28:18–20). When we call people to Jesus, we are upfront about the costs. Following Jesus is a call to lay down your life, leave everything behind, and follow him. We are calling (i.e. recruiting) people to throw in with the King of the universe, the satisfier of souls, the savior of the world.
That’s one way to think about what we are doing. As Christians, we’ve thrown our lot in with Jesus. And now, we want others to do the same. For their good and his glory. In other words, we are disciples of Jesus who happily make more disciples. We intend to multiply!
The Earliest Disciples were Multipliers
This idea of disciples making disciples, of multiplying, is not novel. It’s an ancient practice. In chapter one of John, we are introduced to John the Baptist. John comes onto the scene and points away from himself and towards one whose sandal he isn’t worthy to unstrap (John 1:27). John’s whole aim was to point people to Jesus so that they’d leave his side and join themselves to the Lamb of God (1:29, 35).
The religious leaders want to know why John is baptizing. On whose authority does he do this? Perhaps John the Baptist is the Messiah, or Elijah, or the Prophet of whom Moses spoke (John 1:21) But John says plainly that he isn’t any of those figures. Instead, he quotes Isaiah 40:3 and lets the religious leaders know he is simply preparing the way for the arrival of God’s Messiah. John is simply a messenger.
Therefore, when he sees Jesus, he points away from himself and to the Lord. The Baptist says, “Behold, the Lamb of God” (1:29, 35). And when he points to Jesus, people follow Jesus.
When John points to Christ, Andrew hears his words. But did you notice what Andrew does? “He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus…” (1:40–42). Andrew meets Jesus and immediately wants to introduce his brother to Jesus!
In the next scene, Philip is called to follow Jesus. What does Philip do? He goes and tells Nathanael that they have “found him on whom Moss in the Law and also the prophets wrote…” (1:45). Philip meets Jesus and wants to introduce someone else to Jesus.
This is multiplication. Disciples making more disciples.
The Motive of Multiplication
What drives this type of multiplication? Let me mention two penultimate motivations and one ultimate motive.
First, you eagerly introduce others to the one you love and treasure. That is, when you meet the most amazing person in the universe, you cannot wait for others to share in the joy.
I remember being excited to introduce my soon-to-be wife to my family. We had only dated for a little while, but I was anxious to take her to my hometown where’d she meet my family and friends. She had driven from her hometown to mine and was waiting for me at the park-and-ride lot. I pulled up and she followed me to my house. It was an exciting day. Since I believed (and still believe) she was (and is) an amazing person, I was thrilled for others to get to know her.
So it is with Jesus.
We see this in the Bible. People meet Jesus and are happy to introduce others to him. In John 4, the woman at the well meets the Lord and can’t wait to go and tell her neighbors about him (John 4). She gives her “testimony” about Christ, and many “from [her] town believed” (4:39). Paul meets Jesus on the road to Damascus and then gives his life to be an ambassador for Christ. Countless saints around the world have met the one who is their exceeding joy (Ps 43:4) and then live on mission so that others come to know him as well.
The first motive, then, is we’ve met the treasure of the universe and want others to meet him as well.
Second, we are driven to make disciples because we know Jesus is the only one who saves. It is only through faith in Christ that one is saved from sin, death, and hell and reconciled to a holy God (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 John 5:12). Because we are concerned for the eternal destinies of those created in the image of God, we are eager to persuade everyone we can to put their hope in Jesus.
There are surely other motivations. These are but two. And both of these are penultimate. That is, they both aim at a higher end. Namely, the glory and praise of God.
This, then, is the highest motivation we have for recruiting followers of Jesus. We want God to receive all the honor and glory as he saves people through Spirit-generated faith in Christ.
And when God saves sinners, they set out to recruit people from every tribe and tongue to follow Jesus. As more and more people come to Christ, more and more voices are added to the eternal choir that forever sings the praises of God.
So here we are, living in the present evil age and hoping for the return of Jesus. As we do, we recruit everyone we can to come to him in faith. We do this because we are eager for others to meet the one who is the treasure of heaven. We call people to Jesus because we are concerned for their eternal futures. And we set out to multiply disciples for the glory of our God.
In short, we multiply for the good of our neighbors, the joy of the nations, and the glory of God.