How do we become disciples of all nations? Yes, I didn’t say how to make disciples of all nations, but how to be disciples of all nations.
Lately I’ve been pondering this idea of being discipled by nations. If you’ve been a Christ-follower for at least few years, I assume that you are familiar with the great commission: that we must go and make disciples of all nations.
Because this commission is so explicit, and because of our zeal to obey the Lord, it’s easy for us to jump in quickly and put ourselves in the position of the GIVER. But we need to know that when we disciple someone from an ethnicity and culture which is different from our own, they are also receiving discipleship from someone of a different ethnicity and culture. When we disciple this person, nations are being discipled by us.
Obeying the great commission will one day bring us to the fulfillment of the great commandment: that one day every tribe, tongue, and people redeemed by the blood of the Lamb will gather before the throne and worship together in beautiful unity and diversity, as well-described in the book of Revelation.
Therefore, making disciples of all nations should not look one-directional. This means that those who are eager to make disciples of all nations also need to be discipled by nations in order to grow together as one body.
The challenge is, in our ethnically-segregated Christian congregations and institutions, being discipled by nations won’t naturally happen without us intentionally and eagerly seeking out opportunities.
Here are some practical steps I took in order to be discipled by nations around me:
1. For most of my time as a Christ-follower, I’ve been taught by white (male) preachers and theologians. During the last couple of years, I’ve been making intentional efforts to read, listen, and learn from teachers and authors coming from and representing diverse backgrounds and perspectives.
2. With close friends, I’ve been hosting weekly worship gatherings in homes. I invite diverse friends to teach the Bible from their perspectives, and we experience various cultural expressions in worship (and food) together.
3. We’ve invited friends from different regions to be teachers for our homeschooled children. These friends share their history and culture with our children by telling stories from their own unique perspectives, instead of only exposing our children to world history coming from a European/Western perspective.
Unlike me, who grew up mostly shaped by western Christian culture and perspective, my Korean-American children are growing up being discipled by nations. Their favorite foods are shawarma, Asado, and Nan. They sing songs in Arabic, Lingala, and Burmese. They learn history from SAM-CHONs (Korean word for uncle) and I-MOs (Korean word for auntie) from Syria, Congo, Liberia, Burma, Brazil, China, and Sudan.
Just like other parents, I want to see my children flourish. And one of the ways they can flourish is to be discipled by the nations God sent to us. I’m grateful for people from many nations who disciple me and my family. They guide me to see more of God’s greatness and beauty than I ever could on my own. I learn how to follow Jesus daily by looking at their lives. They help me and my family to grow.
If it takes a village to raise a child, surely it take the nations to make a disciple who worships the God of all nations.