“Stan,” I asked one morning, “do you believe the common expression that ‘Bigger is better’?”
“It depends,” he responded.
“Depends on what?” I asked.
“What you’re talking about,” he said. “For example, a few years ago my wife and I were on a road trip. One morning we stopped for breakfast. As is my custom, I checked the menu for blueberry pancakes.”
“Did they have any?” I asked.
“They did,” Stan replied, “and I told the waitress I would have a couple of them. Her response was to ask if I had ever seen their blueberry pancakes. Since I had never been there, I said, ‘No.’ She said they were big and one would probably be enough.”
“One pancake?” I said. “How could that be?”
“It was so big it hardly fit on a dinner plate,” Stan replied. “Bigger was not better!”
“Yeah” I said, “hard to beat the blueberry pancakes Cook makes and Ricky serves!”
“You got that right!” Stan replied. “For another example, we were once part of a very big church. Same thing; bigger did not necessarily make it better than some very small churches. But, I do think there’s one thing that does make a church better by being bigger.”
“What one thing?” I asked.
“The percentage,” Stan replied.
“Percentage? What percentage?”
“Two aspects,” he said. “The percentage of people who are believers, along with the percentage of the believers who are disciples. With those two things, especially the second one, bigger is definitely better.”
“The bigger the percentage, the better,” I repeated. “Kind of like, ‘The more the merrier’?”
“Again, it depends,” he replied. “It depends on what the ‘more’ are ‘merrier’ about!”
“If,” he continued, “they are ‘merrier’ about being disciples and pursuing discipleship, clearly ‘more’ is better than ‘fewer’, just like a bigger percentage of disciples would be better than a bigger number of people just sitting there.”
“That would be kind of like a whole bunch of people sitting on the train station platform waiting for the train to glory,” I replied, “versus those who leave the platform to give away tickets and explain what the ticket means. You think that’s a fair comparison?”
“Bingo and Amen!” Stan replied.
“And,” he added, “I like to remember what Jesus is recorded to have said, as well as what He didn’t say, at the very end of Matthew’s gospel.”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“Jesus said to go and make disciples,” Stan replied, “He didn’t say just to go and make believers. And I think He would agree that bigger is better if we are talking about the percentage of believers who are truly disciples!”
Bible verses to consider:
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20.
If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for sending Jesus into the world for all who believe to have the assurance of life eternally with you when it’s time to step into eternity. Thank you, too, for the opportunity to be a disciple and to pursue the discipleship of knowing you and Jesus and observing all that He has commanded me while I remain on this side of eternity. I confess that too often I do not pursue being the disciple you intend. Please help me in being a true disciple by denying what I want to do apart from you, doing and being what you intend, and following you wherever you lead, whatever the cost, and whenever you intend, which is always. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Think on this: Do you agree that there’s a difference between being a believer and being a disciple, and that all believers may not be disciples? Why or why not? If you do agree, do you see yourself as a disciple as well as being a believer? If no, why? What does being a disciple look like to you, and how would you describe discipleship to someone who may ask you to explain what it means?