You can only reproduce things that are like the original. There is no way to produce an orange tree from an apple seed without some kind of scientific mutation. Apples produce apples. That reproduction, in every instance, is a process. A tree doesn’t produce a tree, it produces a seed. The seed takes root, grows through a process, and eventually becomes a tree. One of the ways that we know it’s a tree is that it produces seeds which result in other trees.
Teaching people things about stuff by transferring information to them does not transform them. They are simply a person trying to do stuff, they are not a whole new person, transformed at their core. Their reflection of the book is limited to their performance in accordance with the information in the book.
Jesus didn’t refer his followers to an instruction manual nor did He attempt to alter their behaviors with a new set of rules. He didn’t offer them a class, He invited them to live life. In the living of life with Jesus, He could reproduce Himself in them by proximity. Paul did the same thing as he explicitly invited others to “imitate me.”
In Matthew 28:19, there is a commissioning to continue what Jesus started. That passage calls us to teach others and the original language for that teaching is to both “be a disciple” as well as “make a disciple.” You’ll only make what you are.
Have you ever participated in the exercise where there is a circle of people with one whispering a sentence to the one next to them and then it is passed along via whispers around the circle? By the time it gets to the end, it’s different from how it started.
If we want to make disciples, we can’t allow for the distortion that comes from whispering the wrong thing because we heard something other than the original. We have to:
- Stay close to Jesus; He is the source of reproduction
- Remain a disciple of Him by allowing other disciples to sharpen us
- Live life with people to reproduce Him in us in them
- Be transparent with others to show Him in you through your weakness
We aren’t called to get it right, we are called to die. In death, He lives in us and we can become carriers of His glory to be shared and multiplied. If we are alive, we will reproduce us. I don’t know about you, but that wouldn’t be such a good idea in my case.