One of the lynch pin verses of my ministry is the Great Commission that Jesus gives at the end of Matthew (28:18-20). I believe it is our (the church’s) marching orders. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Uhhh…seems cut and dry. What’s our job? Make disciples.
But what I love even more about this passage is what sandwiches it. One day I was reading this and not really “with it” spiritually speaking. Might I say I even had some doubts about what God’s purpose for my life was? So maybe you need to pull out your Bibles out but look at this: 28:16-17, “Then the 11 disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.” What? Some doubted? After they saw Jesus raised from the dead they doubted? Pretty much. Isn’t that how I am sometimes? God comes through again and again for me. And yet, I sometimes doubt.
But look what happens immediately after that phrase, “but some doubted?” “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore….'” In other words, we can only accomplish the mission Jesus set out for us because He is with us. Moreover, we don’t have to doubt because Jesus is with us. Surely Jesus isn’t with us 2,000 years later! Yes, He is, because it ends in the same way, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Don’t you love God’s Word?
We are easily amazed by things but what amazed Jesus, Son of the Living God?
Twice the Scriptures describe Him as being amazed. In Matthew 8:10-13 Jesus is amazed at the incredible faith of a Gentile. And in Mark 6:6, in Nazareth, Jesus was amazed at the lack of faith of his own countrymen and home townspeople. It is a paradox that the religious people of the day, who had the Scriptures, would lack faith, while the Gentiles should demonstrate faith.
Jesus lays out a paradox of his own. The religious, who would expect to participate in the heavenly banquet, were kicked out. But the foreigners were allowed in. The simple lesson is that Jesus respects faith, not ethnicity, background, religiosity, tradition, or other truly external things.
According to Tim Keller, there are 2 basic ways people try to find happiness and fulfillment:
- Moral conformity: Living “RIGHT”
- Self-Discovery: Living “FREE”
Everyone chooses one of these two ways and everyone thinks those in the other group are the problem in the world.
Those people are “immoral.” NO! Those people are “bigoted.”
Some go back and forth or hide behind one even though they are part of the other. And BOTH of these approaches are WRONG!
Actually the 2 ways are more similar than they appear. Moral conformists have the sin of pride as a barrier. It’s how they CONTROL life. If I am “good,” then I will be blessed.
But it doesn’t work that way.
This means you can rebel against God by breaking the rules OR by keeping all of them diligently.
You can avoid Jesus as Savior by keeping all the moral laws. Then God OWES you answered prayer and a good life. Religious people try to get leverage over God, to control Him.
They obey to get things. They don’t obey God to GET GOD HIMSELF. Sin is not just breaking the rules. It is putting yourself in the place of God as Lord.
So both ways are wrong and lead to Hell.
A study at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research tracked the relationships of 423 elderly couples for five years, during which time 134 of them died. Those who had giving relationships (helped friends, did child care, assisted in errands) had half the mortality rate of those who didn’t. It’s interesting that the benefits don’t accrue to those at the receiving end of the relationship, only the giving end. We need to give in order to meet one another’s needs, and this need in us is so basic that “lack of religious involvement has an effect on mortality equivalent to forty years of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.”
Being a Christian does not mean merely believing with our head that Christ died for us. It’s being persuaded that Christ died for me AND I died IN HIM! That is, I am ready to die, that I might live in the power of His love and for the display of His Glory.
What needs to “die” in you, so that you can live for Him?
I first ran this post very early in blogging, and got quite a response from people who I’ve never met. Make sure to check out the comments below. Very interesting stuff. I’m re-running this post because I think it’s important and informative.
An 8 week old “fetus” has a beating heart, an EKG, brain waves, thumb-sucking, pain sensitivity, finger grasping and genetic humanity, but under our present laws in the United States is not a human person with rights under the 14th Amendment. This is not right. That’s why I am “Pro-Life.” Watch this video and tell me what you think. Are there arguments for abortion or the right to choose that you don’t know how to respond to or that you find compelling? :
People ask, “What do you want for your birthday?” So here’s a few things that I’ve come up with…
- I really want to know Christ better, to hear His voice clearer than I’ve EVER heard it before. To KNOW what it is like to be completely filled with and consumed with the Holy Spirit and follow Him with abandon!
- That I will be the best husband on the planet, that I will pursue Jennifer for the rest of my life, that I will do all that I can to make her feel beautiful and special, that I will honor the vows I took on June 27, 1992 and NEVER allow the church or anything else to replace her as the love of my life.
- That I will be an amazing father to Reagan, Micah, and Aidan…the kind of dad that after they move away and have families of their own, that they’ll WANT to come back and spend time with me. I want to model for them what it means to follow Jesus.
- To continue to lead FCC where more people are giving their lives to Christ. I want to see what can happen in a church when people are COMPLETELY sold out to Him, refuse to play it safe and do ANYTHING SHORT OF SIN to reach people for Christ. I can do my job but I need the WHOLE church AND ultimately the Holy Spirit. So may God grant me the gifts and wisdom to do my best.
- To be a friend that loves, trusts, forgives, and believes the best about people, even people I disagree with and for some reason “don’t like.” I don’t want to be a complainer.
- To be a great leader worth following–one that refuses to use people, be manipulated by fear and/or throw my integrity away because I want anything more than honoring Christ.
- To write a book. Oh…this is the one that haunts me the second most on here. I’ve got part of it written with ideas galore but how do I do it and not sacrifice anything above? Pray that I would “find more time.”
- To obey God’s voice and live for His praise rather than giving in to the voices of mere humans who want something different than God. I want to please God, not man.