The heart of Christian discipleship is growing to know Jesus, beholding Him through faith, loving Him who first loved us. To grow in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ sets the trajectory of the Christian life. Grace points us away from self to Christ. We decrease; Christ increases. Our unworthiness, waywardness, and inability lead us to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow Jesus. Christ is formed in us.
The church is God’s incubator for making disciples.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them” (Matt. 28:19).
I was born at an early age. That is to say, I emerged from my mother’s womb ahead of schedule, weighing only about three and a half pounds.
I’m told that my first days were spent in the hospital, in an incubator. The incubator provided a controlled environment where I could develop well enough to thrive on my own – a half-way house of sorts between womb and world.
Our Lord Jesus has this sort of image in view for His church. At the close of Matthew’s Gospel Jesus instructed His disciples to make disciples of the nations, baptizing them in the name of the triune God. Baptism points us to the doorway to God’s covenant community, His visible church.
The church is God’s incubator for making disciples. Through the means of grace made effective by the Holy Spirit, the church provides the light of God’s Word in an atmosphere oxygenated by prayer – the perfect environment for spiritual growth and development.