The Call to Make Disciples 5


Isaiah 52:15

Friday, September 19, 2014

Tribal differences

Tribal graffiti

Our society is made up of more tribes, and more voices, than we realise. 

THE Greek phrase panta te ethne in the command to go and make disciples literally means make disciples of all kinds of people. This cuts through some of the religious layers we have built around “going to the nations”.

Respected Bible teacher John Piper says that panta te ethne mainly has in view different groups, with the emphasis on including those groups who have not heard the gospel, rather than just adding numbers.

There is a certain mystique about the call to the mission field, a certain romantic attraction, an intrigue. Sharing Jesus with some of the tribes down our street seems a bit mundane by comparison with sharing Jesus with an exotic and remote tribe in a jungle somewhere – but the ‘tribe’ who are like us but at the same time, not like us, may be part of the reason that God has put us where we are.

Anthony L Jordan, writing in the Baptist Messenger of Oklahoma, said: “Often, we think of these words of the Great Commission as referring to people in some far off country who speak a foreign language. While that is an accurate vision, it is not big enough. Actually, the panta ta ethne may live next door, down the street, or across town. It would not do violence to the translation to see this verse as referring to people groups of every kind who exist near you.

What sort of ‘tribes’ or groups do we have? Just in and around my road I can identify:

The rich
The poor
The professional and business middle classes
Parents of children
Retired people
People in the armed services
The 20s-30s
Young marrieds
Cyclists, runners, fitness enthusiasts
Classic car owners
Those viewing Jesus from other religions.

And that is without seeking to list different language groups, or ethnic groups, or

The point is, letting the Holy Spirit show us particular ways to engage these people groups, with the Good News message He wants to engage them with!

And what do we go to them with? The short answer is, with evidence of Jesus’ life having changed us. That’s a good discipleship thought with which to end the week.


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