“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
The “Shema” is the national anthem of the Jewish people, and by most observant Jews it is recited at least twice a day. It is within this very prayer that shares a vision for a disciple-making movement. It starts out first by making a declaration that the One true God is worthy of worship and obedience. He deserves the worship and obedience of every part of our lives. He is worthy to be recognised and obeyed within the framework of our family, within our homes, within our travels and workplaces, He is supposed to be within every work of our hands and every thought we take. Our homes and gates are supposed to be marked as a “mikdash me’at” (lesser temple).
In part one of this series we explored the urgency and the challenge of participating in the Great Commission in Israel. We challenged every believer, whether they are or are not involved in a ministry, the urgency to make disciples in our generation. This challenge is a challenge of “where” disciple-making is supposed to take place.
All too often, we ascribe to “audience spirituality”, meaning that the practice of our faith is reserved for a corporate gathering of believers where we usually participate as part of an audience. Most disciples in this context are resigned to listeners and spectators of a great lecturer and worship band, while they remain in their seats for 1-2 hours as spectators or “receivers”. The chairs are faced in such a way that they look towards the front, or a stage from which the speaker speaks and the band plays- and the “spectator” usually watches on while looking at the back of the people’s heads that are in front of him. While we are encouraged to practice our faith everyday, very rarely is there accountability and community to live such a reality in real time with a model. This is why disciples are not made in large corporate contexts, nor can they ever be made in this context; but rather they are made in small groups where the discussion of the Word is participatory, and accountability and camaraderie are regularly practiced. There are 62 one-another commandments in the New Covenant that can be regularly realised in such a large context. Neither are these dynamics realised in a one-on-one relationship, but only within a group where the discovery process of Yeshua and obeying His word can be realised as community. Both the large meeting and the small one-on-one context miss elements needed within disciple-making.
I truly believe God is after family networks. The biblical Greek term for these family networks is “oikos” or “household”. The oikos had a broader context of your family, extended family, servants and hired labour (workplace), and neighbours. We see this in the example of Lydia and her oikos (Acts 16:15), Cornelius and his oikos (Acts 10:24), the Philippian jailer and his oikos (Acts 16:31-32), and many more. This would definitely be the foundation to which God gave Abraham when he said through him “all the oikos/families of the earth will be blessed (Genesis 12:3). Last of all, the promised salvation of Israel in the end times will happen through households and families (Zechariah 12:7, 10-14). We also see this in the example of the Passover as there was a lamb presented as a meal in every household. I would even say that as the Jewish people followed the Shema and obeying G-d’s Torah, the majority of their emphasis was round the home and only during the three pilgrimage feasts were they encouraged to gather in large meetings. Sometimes they also gathered in community wide meetings during the new moon festivals.
So, my second challenge to the body of Messiah in our urgency to see a disciple-making movement is to restore the power of faith at home and in the workplace. We need to see genuine practice of our faith within everyday life. This includes home groups that are planted within everyday life.
Yeshua truly deserves the worship and obedience of every household.
Next: Part 3 – Shabbat and the Lord’s Table: Restoring the Power of Communion