This morning I saw pictures of Maryland Governor Larry Hogan at the train station and on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad train. He was shaking hands, getting his picture taken with people, and seated at a table in what looked like a dining car. As I looked at the pictures, I thought to myself what a wonderful job to have – going out and riding trains around the state of Maryland. I only thought that for a moment, though. While it had to have been a fun day, (I mean who does not like to ride trains) it occurred to me that this was only a perk of his job. His job is not to go out and ride trains. It is not unlike the Short Gap Volunteer Fire Company. Nearly everyone at the SGVFC likes to drive and ride in fire trucks, but their job is not to ride in fire trucks. Driving and riding in fire trucks is a perk of the job. Their job is to put out fires, cut people out of cars on motor vehicle accidents, and get cats out of trees. OK, they do not get cats out of trees. I just want to see if you are paying attention.
My job as a pastor is to make disciples of Jesus Christ. That is what the Bible commands me to do. If you are His follower, that is your job as well. The UMC, of which I am a part, says we are to make disciples of Jesus for the transformation of the world. Matthew 28 not only says we are to make disciples, but it tells us how we are to make disciples. In an often neglected part of the “making disciples” effort, we make disciples by teaching them to obey what God commands. People can pick out this or that and make it their focus and claim they are doing what God commands. A big one is love. People go as far as making love their god, neglecting all the other commands and directions of God. There is one word that I believe God is about as much as any other: transformation.
So as a pastor, how do I gauge whether I am making disciples? I think you can see it in transformed lives. Does it happen often? I think it is rare. Yet, as AW Tozer wrote a half century ago, “Every once in a while there appears an awakened soul.” My job, with all the other problems and perks, is to see lives transformed… to see people brought from death to life through the repentance of their sins, the acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, and for the Holy Spirit to help them live more holy lives. The hand of the Lord is upon me to awaken souls with His offer.
Photo from Gov. Larry Hogan’s Facebook post