Do believers put any value on their spiritual children? Do you? One of the things we grieved the most after losing our house to a wildfire several years ago, was pictures. For most of us, pictures hold deep significance, because of the memories they have locked within them. No matter our age, from our 4 and 6-year-old grandchildren, to senior adults, we all like looking at pictures that help us remember people and good times in life.
One thing I’ve learned from our “fire years” is that, while pictures are special, it is the people we’ve invested deeply in spiritually over the years that are even better than pictures! Seeing the faithful and fruitful lives of people we’ve built spiritual foundations in is more amazing than looking back at pictures!
The heart for intentional disciplemaking that yields spiritual generations rests on foundations from Scripture:
- The Promise to Abraham. The heart for discipleship always includes a vision for generations and the nations, undergirded by God’s purpose and promise (see also Galatians 3:29):
I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me (Genesis 22:17,18 NIV84, emphasis added).
- The Great Commission. We follow in the footsteps of Jesus, who saw the answer for a chaotic world in His disciples—and their disciples. Jesus modeled it for the three years He was with His disciples (Mark 3:14), imparted the vision to them and prayed for them to continue the same pattern (John 17:20; 20:21), finally giving them this mandate:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV84).
- Generations of Grace. 2 Timothy 2:2 is a beautiful picture of four generations that took years, even decades, to fully evolve. And we must never forget that verse two can only happen because of verse one:
You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others (2 Timothy 2:1,2 NIV84, emphasis added).
Believers who know the heart of Jesus will grieve the desperate brokenness of people far from God. The answer is a ripple of Jesus’ grace, extending through generations of disciplemakers living and discipling among those yet to know Christ.