I know that I am a geek for even saying this, but the Star Wars clone army was the ultimate fighting force. Thousands upon thousands of genetically engineered clones. Designed to fight, yes, but also to conform and obey. Do your mission efficiently with no questions asked.
Has God called the church to develop a clone army? When I look at the traditional model for discipleship, I can’t help but think of this unstoppable army. Get twelve guys together (sorry ladies) for a minimum of ten weeks. The intent is to reproduce myself with these men. If I do that successfully, those twelve men will be able to turn around and reproduce themselves with twelve other men. It’s basically multi-level marketing for Jesus. At the first level I only impact twelve guys. But the second level creates 144 clones in only twenty weeks! If everyone follows through, by the third level, I will have reproduced myself to 1,728 people. Allowing some time to take a breath, 20,736 would be created in eleven months. Think about that number. I once lived in a small Iowa town with a population of 5,000. What would happen in your city or town if God raised up over 20,000 committed disciples in less than a year? That would be an unstoppable force.
If this is a successful model for creating committed Christ followers, then where are the disciples? Wouldn’t the church be exploding with committed disciples? There would be no holding us back. In less than one year, one committed Christ follower could radically transform tens of thousands of lives! If this is what God has called and empowered us to do, then what happened?
I think this model is based on two things: Christ’s interaction with his twelve disciples and his command (not request) in Matthew 28:19 to, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” We know we need to make disciples, but we’re not sure what that looks like. Since there were twelve tribes of Israel and Jesus chose twelve disciples, that seems like a pretty good number. Of course, he spent years in close proximity to these men, but we don’t have that kind of time so let’s make it once a week for ten weeks.
This model is also based on one major assumption: that Jesus reproduced himself in those men. Was that really his intent? Did Peter become just like Jesus? Did John become a Jesus clone? I might be treading on thin ice here, but I believe that assumption is wrong. Jesus called these men to become who he had created them to be. He made Luke with his analytical mind and Peter with his impetuous spirit. Jesus did not call these men because he saw something in them, but because he had placed something in them. To homogenize them would nuetralize that distinctive calling.
God uniquely created every single one of us. I am different than the people in my family, my church, my community. I am individually gifted, wired and called. I am nothing like you and you are nothing like me. That is good. Why would God call us to conformity? This makes no sense to me.
God has gifted, wired and called each one of us uniquely. No one else has my personality (for which my wife is thankful). No one else has the exact blend of spiritual gifts God is allowing me to unwrap. So often, Christian ministry kills the very unique creativity that our creator has placed within us.
Discipleship should be distinctly non-conformist. It should call people out to be like no one else. To reach those that no one can reach. To express ideas that others don’t think about. To create in ways that are solely yours. To be your own unique expression of the Imago Dei.