“Why is it that Jay-r doesn’t want to get baptized yet believes in Jesus?” Jomie starts conversing with me just now. It’s the 23rd of February, 7:40pm.
“Who is this guy you’re talking about Jomie?
“It’s our customer at the store who became a friend” Jomie starts telling me about him. “He comes every night to eat BBQ and stays longer so we have become close to each other. Last night, as I was waiting for Albert to leave for home after working with Peter, it was almost midnight when Jay-r came and we had a chat. I started making him into a disciple.” (Jomie is working together with a disciple here named Manman all days as he shared this to me. And they also talked about making disciples while doing something. They discussed how it’s a lifestyle, it’s about talking while doing things together, and a meeting is simply talking.)
“How did it all start anyway?” I want to know the details why his new friend doesn’t want to get baptized yet believes in Jesus. “That’s quite interesting.” As I listened, I see Jomie has presented the Gospel well, explaining how he ‘normally’ does it every time he makes a disciple.
Jomie told his story: “How much is your salary here?” Jay-r asked me.
“Salary? What do you mean?” I replied.
“Working here in the store” Jay-r asked in more detail.
“Nothing. You don’t receive salary from your family, I said to him.”
“Family? Are they your family?” asked Jay-r.
“Not really. Not my physical family. But anyone who follows Jesus is your family in the faith.” Jomie explained.
“What does that mean, a follower?” Jay-r inquired.
“Now, I will make you a disciple of Jesus.” Jomie starts sharing with him starting with believing to a responding through repentance and baptism.
Then Jomie said to me, “Last night, I asked God why did Jay-r not want to go through baptism yet he believes in God. Are there really people who are like that Kuya?”
“Of course Jomie, there are. Don’t expect people to ‘always’ respond to the way you’ve always shared the Good News to them. Why, are you sad?”
“It’s a kind of like….” he replied.
“Is it because every time you’ve made people into a disciple they will get baptized?” I asked Jomie.
“Yes,” he said proudly.
“It’s not about you, Jomie” I admonish, “making disciples is about Jesus. So don’t be sad. Also, what’s important to the person is that he really gets what it takes for him to follow Jesus. It means, you shared with him God’s love and sacrifice, denying self, leaving his sin and being dead to that sin, and baptism, and so forth. Did he get this all anyway?”
“Oh yes, we even talked about his vices that he will need to stop destroying himself by taking drugs. He’s young about 16 years old. He shared with me that he’s using drugs sometimes so I told him that if you want to follow Jesus then leaving sin and burying them in baptism is a reason for you to respond to what He has done for you,” Jomie makes a point.
“Exactly right Jomie! Many so-called disciples start following Jesus yet still follow their sin. Then they wonder why their life hasn’t change. Following Jesus doesn’t require you to change your life first, it’s an exchange of your life for His life but it surely requires you to leave your sin behind. And that’s when He starts changing you as there are good works that He prepares for you to do. That’s obedience and that’s the summary of being a disciple. You are doing alright by presenting to him the Gospel. So don’t you start feeling bad about yourself. Or are you sad because you start taking the glory that’s due Him?”
“What does that mean kuya?”
“As I said, making disciples is about Jesus, not you. Is it because that whenever you shared Jesus you are ‘always’ successful in going to the end – baptism. And now that you can’t somehow get someone to be baptized you feel bad?”
“Sort of” he agreed.
“See, then making disciples for you starts to become about you. If you can get the person baptized you are happy. And if not? You are sad. It’s all about you Jomie, not Him anymore. How proud we are when we say ‘I made a disciple in just 5 minutes!’ And this includes baptism even, right?”
“Yeah!” His response was quite exciting.
“And when we become proud we forget that we are making a person a disciple of Jesus, not ours! Why did you ask God that question last night without Jay-r present with you?” (The question being: Why he doesn’t want to get baptized yet he believes?) “Why didn’t you ask God while you were making Jay-r into a disciple?” I asked Jomie these somewhat deep questions and he couldn’t answer straight. “Making disciples is ‘introducing’ Jesus to the person, not ‘talking about’ Jesus. It means, Jesus is present in making disciples. Simply put, when you introduce me to your friend it means I am ‘present with’ you. And you can actually ask me questions right away if you’re having a hard time dealing with your friend, right? So why didn’t you ask Jesus right away as He is present with you saying ‘Jesus, why does he not want to get baptized when he believes in you anyway?’ Jesus for sure will answer you. But you did not ask. That means, you’re not aware that He is present or you just simply ignore him because making disciples has become about you. When did we make disciples on our own Jomie?”
“I have learned my lesson” he said.
What a good student this young man!
“When I went to Butuan City in Mindanao,” I shared my own story that resonates with his, “A friend brought me to his friend whom he wants help to become a disciple. The guy was way older than me, 58 years old and loves to debate anyway. The guy started to believe that Jesus has already saved him 2,000 years ago but he cannot believe that he can save himself by doing nothing. “There must be something to do to get save” was his opinion. I was in a bit of a shock. It’s my first time to make a person a disciple like this. So in a moment of silence that I am speechless I ask God in my spirit what should I do. And I got my answer and I did convince him that there is nothing he could do to save himself and finally I baptized him that day.”
“The Lesson for you today is to thank God that you present Him well – that in order to follow Jesus he must deny himself, this includes repentance (leaving sin) and baptism- but he refused to go through the process to become a disciple. Or else, he will use the name of the Lord in vain as a disciple who doesn’t know how to behave by his way of life. He doesn’t know how to live the ‘new life’ simply because the ‘old life’ wasn’t buried in baptism. In Jesus time, many disciples also left Him. He even asked Peter if he also wants to get out of the club!
“Lesson two: making disciples is about ‘introducing’ Jesus to your friend. He is present in the making. Don’t ignore Him, recognize Him. Making disciples is not slow but quick. It is quick in the sense you have to ‘slow down’ because you may need to keep silent for a while if you have a hard time so as to give Him time to talk to the person that you’re making into a disciple and to give Him time to guide you.
“And lesson three: Write your story of how you tried to make Jay-r a disciple. It’s still a good story that encourages people to make their friends ‘new or old’ into a disciple.”