[This post is part of the ‘Getting Back To Basics’ Series.]
My kids want a dog. As a result we’ve been considering the possibility. We’ve spent a lot of time researching, or should I say my wife has spent a lot of time researching the various breeds that might be good for us as a family.
There’s hundreds of different types of dogs. What I’ve noticed though is that they all have a few things in common. For example, they all ‘woof’, they all ‘sniff’ at things, and they ‘wag’ their tails.
Can a dog be a dog if it looks like a cat?
I realise it seems like a ridiculous question. But with all this talk of us getting a dog it seems like a good illustration. The answer is obviously that if we are to call a dog a dog then it has to have the characteristics of a dog. It has to do dog types of things. If an animal looks, sounds and acts like a dog then you’d call it a dog. You couldn’t call it a cat because what it does shows the very nature of the animal.
It’s the characteristics that makes it what it is.
I realise that you can’t push any analogy or illustration too far but stick with me…
Jesus told his disciples what was expected of them. He made it pretty clear what characteristics and what actions were to define his disciples. In one of the most important passages for us as Christians, Matthew 28:18-20, we see Jesus last command to his disciples. It was a defining moment then and remains so now. It says;
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Here we see Jesus commanding with the authority of God what He expected. He defined what it was he wanted those percent to be about doing.
The commission hasn’t changed.
If we claim to follow Jesus then this commission is now our commission and therefore we now have the responsibility to;
- Make disciples.
- Baptise in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- Teach to observe.
- Remember that Jesus is with us always.
Jesus is commanding us with the very authority of God. His expectation is that we would be doing these things. Of course I’m not suggesting these are the only characteristic of followers of Jesus, nor the only things we should be about. I am saying that they are the least we should be doing.
For Jesus, discipleship equals these things.
So, can a dog be a dog if it looks like a cat?