Monday, February 1, 2010

joy in making disciples

babyfeet I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

3 John 4

A disciplemaker’s heart is filled with a nearly inexpressible joy at the witness of a life that is walking the walk of a follower of Jesus. This is an ancient joy and a reward of the faith. It grips John the Apostle as he wrote these words in the shortest and most personal of his epistles.

He writes to a disciple named Gaius. We know nothing of him except what can be discerned from this text. He was loved by John and he was a faithful follower of Jesus. His Christian testimony was one of faithful commitment that expressed itself visibly. He may have been a church leader, but not necessarily a pastor or elder, given the situation that John addresses in 3 John 9-10.  It appears that this letter to Gaius was meant to address an issue in a local church that existed back then. And I believe it led to a successful outcome, which is way it survives for us to read it today.

The testimony of this faithful saint was known to John. And it brought him joy. That sort of joy is known by those who help others grow and mature in Christian commitment. It is known by Christian parents as they witness the work of God in their kids. Then there is a joy as ther children literally learn to walk in the truth.

I have the unique privilege of sharing in this joy in an entire church. As a pastor, I work in the spiritual experiences of dozens of people at any one time. I honestly have to keep notes so as to not get the details of one life mixed up with another! But that administrative detail is not the point of ministry and it is worth it, mixed as it is with both the sorrows and pleasures of life. Most Sundays I can look out across a large congregation and feel this surge of joy in my heart at what God is doing in lives. I know more than a lot of people do about the details, and the details are amazing.

There is nothing else in life quite like this. It is hard for me even now to put it into words this morning. It is, as I have written, an ancient joy. And it does not compare to the joy that most be in God’s heart!

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