Do you remember Dolly the Sheep? If you’re under the age of 30, you might not. I’ll give you just a little background, then you can do some googles if you must know more. In 1996, a Scottish research center successfully cloned a sheep using a cell from an adult sheep. Scientists had cloned animals before, but this was the first time a mammal had been cloned from an adult cell. Dolly was introduced to the public in 1997—she was kind of a big deal.
Dolly had six little lambs of her own over the course of her life. She was a pioneer. Cloning animals has become pretty common place since then. Now we kind of try to avoid GMOs, but this isn’t a soapbox for that topic. I brought up Dolly because she (brace yourself) reminds me a bit of Jesus.
Yep! I did it. I compared a sheep made in a lab to the Lamb of God. You’ll be alright.
Jesus had a bit of a unique conception story. He came into this world different and things have never been the same since. While He was here, He replicated Himself.
Jesus was a teacher—a Rabbi. He was trained in the scripture and knew the Law. As was customary, a Rabbi would select pupils worthy of their tutelage, and train them in their way. Only the best would make it. Only the worthy. Except Jesus took a much different approach. He took some relatively unworthy guys; walked with them, lived among them, trained them in His way. Jesus reproduced Himself into them.
Clones. All of them (sans Judas). The Disciples—Apostles had their spiritual DNA altered, causing them to become more like Jesus. After His resurrection and before His ascension, Jesus gave His disciples some pretty bold instructions:
“…go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…“Matthew 28:19
Sorry…what?! So you gonna make us disciples, and then you gonna tell your disciples, that you made, to make disciples, like some disciple makers? …of *all* nations?
Granted, the Bible doesn’t say this was how the disciples responded, but it’s how I think I might have responded. It’s how I’ve spent most of my life responding when reading this scripture. Quite honestly, I always managed to find a way to make it someone else’s responsibility to make disciples. Like… how?
Unlike GMO sheep, corn, and chickens, true Jesus clones must be authentic—organic, if you will. So it must be the church’s responsibility, right? Wait… the church isn’t a building; we the people are the Church. So then… it must mean the pastor, the deacons, the elders, the Sunday school teacher; somebody besides me!
POINT OF ORIGIN
I’ve got news—whether it’s bad or good depends on your perspective: There is no one else. No one besides me. No one besides you. It is us, the disciples of Jesus Christ. We are His people; the sheep of His pasture. Disciples are made when the imprint of Jesus on the heart of one person is passed on to the heart of someone who follows them. Disciples are made when we clone ourselves.
Yes, ourselves. Granted, this only works when we are truly disciples of Jesus. You don’t want to be a copy of me lol… That’s going in the wrong direction! In Philippians 4, Paul implores the Church at Philippi to focus on the Christlike attributes they have seen in him and to imitate those things. We need to first be imitators of Christ ourselves, in some way, before we can pass that spiritual DNA on to another person. And because it is part of this Great Commission that Jesus gives to us, His disciples, we cannot leave it for someone else to do. This is the work of the Church and we are the Church.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”Philippians 4:8-9
These are the things Paul encouraged the Philippians to focus on: whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. These are the things we ought to occupy our minds with, as believers. We might all be just a little more stable minded if we would be more intentional about our thought life. I know I would be. King Solomon teaches us that the boundaries on our ability to ‘be’ are managed by our thoughts (Proverbs 23:7 NASB). As go our thoughts, so goes our being. This isn’t a pep talk on positive thinking; this is about RIGHT thinking.
Having established how disciples and disciple makers ought to think, Paul goes further by giving us what I believe is a solid guide for disciple synthesis. Take what you have learned, received, heard, and seen in the person discipling you and put those things into practice. Again, this is applicable when our focus is in the right place. Don’t put someone else’s bad habits into practice. That’s hustling backwards. Hustle forward.
When making clones of our spiritual selves, we’ve got to look at this from the perspective of those receiving our DNA. They will learn, receive, hear, and see things from us. So we must ask these questions:
- What am I teaching, that someone else might learn from me?
- What am I giving, that others are able to receive from me?
- What am I saying, that will be heard?
- What am I showing, that those following me can see?
Every single one of us has something we can teach. What we teach can only come from what we know. You, right there in your seat, you know your story. You know what Jesus has done for you! Just like several examples in the Gospels show us, when Jesus performs an act of life change in us, we should go and tell others what He did.
We’ve all got something to give. And I don’t just mean money. Giving money to people is nice, and sometimes the most right thing to do, but money doesn’t make disciples. Disciples make disciples. A lot of us Christians are hoarders…but that’s a whole ‘nother subject and I don’t have time. What you have, GIVE!
What kind of speech comes out of our mouths …or from our thumbs? Our words have power. Rarely is a spoken word neutral. How we communicate matters. God created everything with His words. Our words are synthesized into the hearts of those who hear us.
But we can’t just talk about it. We’ve got to be about it. There’s an idiom that says “I can show you a whole lot better than I can tell you!” Even if all of our words are right, the way we live our lives—even the parts that we think aren’t anyone else’s business… the way we live our lives speaks lou…. No more cliches. You get the point.
Jesus has commissioned those of us who follow Him to be clones of Him and to clone ourselves. He is the Good Shepherd, but He left it up to us to feed His sheep.
Keith Goosby II is the founding minister of NET Church. He has served in ministry for over 20 years, in various capacities–including music, social media management, teaching, preaching, consulting, and leadership. Keith’s first church experience as a child was a home church. Since then, he has attended and served at churches sizing from just a few to over 10,000–of various denominations and affiliations. As NET Church is being planted, Keith continues to serve at his Dallas home church, Golden Gate MBC, in Dallas, TX, under the leadership of Minister Vincent T. Parker. Keith is married and currently lives in the Dallas area with his wife and three sons.