The life of discipleship is filled with discovery. We must discover who Jesus is and what He expects. We must also discover who we are and how we will respond to Jesus’ call to discipleship.
The Great Commandment Matrix was designed by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s Congregational Services Group as a tool to help churches and individuals discover their heart motivations behind their ministries and behaviors.
The matrix is based on Matthew 22:37-40 and Jesus’ declaration that love for God was the greatest commandment. Scripture tells us the second, to love your neighbor as yourself, is like it.
Jesus declared that all the law and the prophets – meaning everything else in scripture – depend on these twin commandments.
A disciple-making culture exists where lives are ordered around loving God and loving others. The matrix graphic provides four categories in which attitudes/behaviors can be classified:
This is claiming to have a high love for God but not demonstrating a love for others. The religion-centered person claims to love God but has overlooked the command that whoever loves God must also love his brother (1 John 3:21).
Like the Pharisee of Jesus’ day, the religion-centered person believes that keeping law or tradition puts one in right-standing with God. Here, even good things like Bible knowledge and prayer become idols.
This imbalance leads to legalism and self-righteous attitudes. For example, if you are in an argument with your spouse, you can ask him or her to forgive you because you are expected to do this as a good spouse.
This is claiming to have a high love for others without holding to a love for God. Historically, the Great Commandment has often been interpreted only through the lens of loving one’s neighbor.
While Christians are obligated to care for the poor, the hungry, the naked and the thirsty as Jesus indicated (Matthew 25:31-40), we cannot divorce such care from a call to those in need to love God exclusively.
This imbalance leads to a social gospel void of evangelistic and missional zeal. In an argument, you can ask the other person to forgive you because you want to make that person happy and appease him or her.
This is demonstrating neither a love for God nor a love for others. Even the most pious behaviors and benevolent actions can be done for personal gain or satisfaction. This imbalance leads to division and disunity as you only look out for yourself. In an argument, you can ask the other person to forgive you because you want to avoid further arguments and desire to just escape the situation.
This is demonstrating a love for God that compels us to love others. The Christ-centered disciple studies the Bible and seeks to apply biblical truth to your life.
This disciple is able to love others with word and deed because he is filled with the love of God. This disciple has an appropriate balance of focus on Jesus that leads to obedience to the Great Commission to make disciples. In an argument, you ask for forgiveness because you recognize you have sinned and you are called to love the other person as Christ loves the church.
Where is your discipleship centered? Use the chart above to consider the motives of your heart when it comes to being a disciple.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Brian Upshaw leads the Church Ministry Team for Congregational Services at the Baptist State Convention of N.C.)