“(Y’all) Go therefore and (y’all) make disciples of all the nations, (y’all) baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (y’all) teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you (i.e. y’all)…” ~ Matthew 28:19-20 PRV (Pucik Revised Version)
In Greek and Hebrew and many other languages, a distinction is made between the singular and plural forms of “you.” In the South we have a way of distinguishing a singular “you” from a plural “you.” We use the word “y’all.” It helps to know which is being used in a biblical text like Matthew 28:19-20.
Often overlooked in the commentaries, there are sections of scripture addressed to groups that we tend to try and carry out as individuals. The Lord’s Prayer is (technically) a model prayer given to a group (“Our Father…”). The admonitions to a troubled church found in James 4 contain directions groups should follow (e.g. James 4:7-10 “y’all draw near to God and He will draw near to y’all” PRV). These passages can (and should) certainly be applied in our lives individually, but they were intended to be carried out corporately. There are some things God wants us to do “together.”
The Great Commission — to make disciples — was given to a group… in my case, God used a group of dear ones to disciple me in walking with God during my earliest years as a Christian…
- A mission pastor who took time to answer my questions.
- A group of senior adults who let me come pray with them on Sunday mornings.
- A businessman who picked me up from my dorm room and gave me rides to Sunday services.
- A staff member at a large church who hit “pause” when I showed up at his office one day, and
- A deacon and his wife who challenged me to grow during my college years, sending money each month to purchase books that matter.
- A professor who took time with me in his office over 3 years, sometimes having me drive him to speaking engagements so we could talk.
- A home missionary who became a father in ministry to me, a relationship spanning 30 years.
- A longtime pastor and counselor, today always ready to take my call, to listen, and pray with me.
He did this in my life. It wasn’t planned in a curriculum but it was part of a plan. His. It’s the way He forms disciples. He uses a grace-filled group of people to make a disciple. Some of those encounters will be pointed and relatively brief. Others will continue investing in a relationship for a lifetime.
Don’t give up. Keep investing in the dear ones He brings across your path. Respond to those Holy Spirit “nudges” as you listen to and interact with other believers. Let Him add a supernatural dimension to your personal ministry. Mediate the lessons He has taught you. Dispense grace and mercy in every soul. Love them with the love He supplies.
At the same time, who are you drawing from? Who are the mature ones around you on your journey today? As He leads, connect. Forge a relationship — it takes time — trust will come. Pose your questions and dilemmas. That’s not weakness. It’s a pursuit of wisdom… listening and learning. Pray together. Gather up what the Lord gives you through that person and hold on to those insights… they will become a series of life-altering gifts.