Make Disciples (6)
Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.” John 4.26
Command the conversation
The late Paul Little, in his excellent book, How to Give Away Your Faith, provided a detailed analysis of Jesus’ conversation with the woman at the well. I’m merely summarizing the main points of his study, which can be most helpful in learning to fulfill your calling as a disciple-maker.
One important dynamic of that situation is that Jesus commanded the teaching moment and took the conversation where He wanted to go.
We can learn to do this as well, whether we’re trying to bear witness to an unsaved friend or colleague, or helping some fellow disciple go a little deeper with the Lord. Having started the conversation, Jesus quickly proceeded to introduce the unseen realm and to direct the conversation toward a more serious consideration of spiritual matters.
And all the while, Jesus knew exactly where He was going with this conversation. Sooner or later, He would bring this teaching moment around to Himself.
The most important topic
Jesus is the most important topic, the central thread of every teaching moment. We who are learning Jesus are called to teach Jesus to others. We want unbelievers to consider Him, and we want our Christian friends to go deeper with Him. As disciples we are being transformed increasingly into the image of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3.12-18). As disciple-makers we bear witness to Him and encourage other disciples to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord (2 Pet. 3.18).
Only Jesus can bring real meaning, purpose, direction, and life to the people we meet each day in the as-you-are-goings of our lives. So, from the beginning of our teaching moment, we need to think about ways of guiding the conversation toward the center of all things, toward Jesus.
Now, this doesn’t mean that every conversation needs to be a complete Gospel presentation, or a full-blown lesson in discipleship. Not at all. Just getting someone to think about Jesus lays down a plank on the bridge we’re building that we can return to at some later time to resume our conversational journey. But it is the most loving thing that we can do to point others – saved or unsaved – to the One Who is making all things new in our lives.
Again, you won’t find many people who have no respect at all for Jesus. Even the most rabid unbeliever will probably admit that, if Jesus really lived, He was a remarkable person. Adjust your point of contact with the person in your teaching moment to meet them where you find them. There are plenty of things about Jesus that can begin to make that essential connection to the center.
We don’t always have to start with His death on the cross or second coming to inject the Name and Presence of Jesus into our conversations. Jesus’ life, teaching, and works, as well as the various responses to Him by His contemporaries, provide many angles for bringing up some aspect of the Lord in a conversation. Look for a realistic connecting point, and then begin to build your conversation toward the center from there.
Your experience of Jesus
You should of course make sure to have your personal testimony ready – and ready to adjust as needed – to every situation. Even when you’re talking with believers, it’s important to keep Jesus in the focus; and you can do this by sharing something that Jesus has taught you or done in your life of late. Your unbelieving friends may not believe that Jesus has meant so much to you, or done so much for you, but no one can deny your experience when you are convinced of it. Your believing friends will be encouraged by your experience and perhaps challenged to seek more of Jesus for themselves.
Even pointing to a Scripture that clearly talks about Jesus can help to focus others on Him and what He has done in your life, and may want to do in theirs.
With unbelievers you can use your own testimony to bring Jesus into the teaching moment, provided you use a part of your testimony that will connect with the unbeliever. This might require you to spend more time in prayer each day, rehearsing your testimony with the Lord, surveying the vast scope of His goodness and providential care for you, until you see more clearly all the many good things He has done and is doing in your life.
Paul used his own personal testimony freely and often in the Book of Acts and in his epistles. He knew that only Jesus Christ can change lives, only Jesus Christ is the altogether lovely and majestic One, only Jesus Christ can command the necessary wonder and adoration that lead men to forsake their old ways of living and take up their crosses as His disciples.
So the better we become at injecting Jesus into a conversation, at precisely the relevant point, the better we will be in fulfilling our callings to be witnesses and teachers for the Lord.
1. Christians believe that Christ is the center of everything. Really? Explain.
2. Can we expect to move our conversations and other teaching moments toward Christ if our relationship with Him is not what it ought to be? Explain.
3. What would you say ought to be the important parts of a testimony about what Christ has done for us? Summarize your testimony in no more than three sentences.
Next steps – Preparation: Briefly outline your own testimony. How did you become a Christian? What difference has that made in your life? Today, ask a Christian friend to share his or her own testimony with you. If there’s time, share yours. This will help you begin gaining confidence in your ability to talk about the Lord in your life.
T. M. Moore
Working Your Personal Mission Field
Two little books can help you be more effective in your calling to make disciples. You can order a free copy of Joy to Your World! andThe Gospel of the Kingdom by clicking here. Be sure to check out our free monthly Personal Mission Field Workshop by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.