Matthew 28:18-20: “Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”
Most Christians know about the Great Commission. We understand our call to go out and make more Christians. However, there are many issues with the way we look at the call to evangelism. The concept of evangelizing is a complex one and I don’t claim to be an expert. However, I do believe that the Bible is a bit clearer than we make it sometimes. There are three main errors in thinking regarding evangelism that I would like to address.
1. Jesus didn’t say to make Christians, He said to make Disciples:
I don’t believe there should be any sort of difference between being a “Disciple” and being a “Christian”. Unfortunately, however, today’s average American Christian seems to resemble a radically different image from the Biblical Disciple. There are many reasons for this but I will tackle one main facet. I want to be clear before any one gets offended. I love alter calls. I love when pastors invite people to raise their hand and accept Christ into their hearts. I think those are sweet moments and I believe they are legitimate. However, the Christian experience is not meant to end there. Grace is free. By faith and faith alone you are saved. However, salvation isn’t meant to be our end goal. Salvation is necessary so that God will abide in us. God’s ultimate desire is to be with his people. What many of us miss is the fact that salvation enables us to live a life as a powerful Disciple of Christ. It’s hard for many Christians to walk out their new lifestyle because they don’t have anyone discipling them. Jesus said to “teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.” I believe the Holy Spirit has the power to grow a new believer into the person God has called them to be, but God created us for community. We are not meant to be lone-wolf Christians, we belong to a sheep-pen. Through fellowship, we can become better Disciples as we live to follow Christ in community. So I encourage everyone to find a community of like-minded believers to help you on your journey. I also encourage everyone to provide the people that you’re witnessing to with a community that they can get plugged in with.
2. The Great Commission isn’t a chore. It’s a joyous privilege:
Many of us feel burdened by the command to go forth and expand the Kingdom. Many of us feel stressed and pressured to go outside and preach on the streets or do things that fill us with anxiety. Yet Paul declared it pure joy to do the work he did. Respected missionaries like Heidi Baker and Todd White are filled with joy for the rigorous evangelism they do. Personally, I feel the most alive when I witness other people encounter God’s Love for the first time in their lives. I live to be used by God in the ways that the apostles were. It’s the desire of Jesus’ heart for us to go and change the world. He said, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (John 20:21) Jesus was joyful to do the work that He saw His Father, so we should be too. I don’t expect this joyful expectation to just “turn on” as you read this, but I encourage you to pray for God to warm your heart. Ask the Holy Spirit to cause you to be compelled by Love. There is true transformation in the Spirit’s work.
3. Fear is never an option:
There is a reason Jesus preceded the Great Commission with “All authority on heaven and on earth has been given to me.” This declaration is meant give us assurance and courage. I often say that a Christian who has lost all fear is the most dangerous thing on earth. It’s a beautiful thing what a Christian can accomplish when they find strength in God’s grace. What is there to fear in this world as a Christian? “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) Many times our fear comes from the fact that many of us don’t have a true revelation of the Father’s goodness. All fear is from the enemy and it is his only tool he can use to prevent us from expanding the Kingdom of God. The Christian is so strong that the only way the enemy can stop us by getting us to stop ourselves. Remember that God has given you wherever the soles of your feet shall tread (Joshua 1:3, I am not using this verse out of context, this rule applies spiritually). Abide in Christ’s authority.
4. Remain Normal:
For some reason Christians can tend to get weird. I’m all about being a “fool for Christ”, but only when it’s necessary. There’s no reason to amp up the spiritual language while ministering. There’s no reason to sway and act abnormal when we minister to strangers. Our life and actions are meant to model that we are “Not of This World” – not our weird antics. I wish churches would give social-skills classes for us, because I have seen too many Christians ramble in an ignorant way, which can drive the non-believer farther away. The worst is when we don’t even listen to the person we are speaking to. Sometimes we just repeat what we have been taught to say in an impersonal way which makes us sound like some churchy robots. If we don’t rely on the Holy Spirit to speak through us (Luke 12:12) we rely instead on our knowledge. But always remember that “Knowledge puffs up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). If it is only our head knowledge speaking and not our heart’s wisdom, it will be hard to plant a successful seed. Remain in love and remain normal and the experience will be smoother for everyone.
“Very truly I tell you, WHOEVER believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12, emphasis added)
Jesus wasn’t lying when he said that. God takes great joy in watching his creation represent him well. He loves when we take initiative and ask him to use us. We owe the world and encounter with God! As carriers of God’s Holy Spirit we cannot be content with living a life in the shadows. We must step out onto the battlefield and regain our calling. As the Church we are Christ’s representatives. In other words we are re-presenting Jesus to the world! (See 2 Corinthians 5:20) This is the most awesome mandate for our lives. I think the reason many of us don’t go out and risk things for the Kingdom is because we lack faith that God will actually do something or we don’t feel worthy enough to present the gospel. These are two lies that I long to address another time, but my hope and prayer is that this blogsite will set a fire in your faith and help you realize the glorious call that God has put on every believer’s life! I love you all. I believe in you all. And more importantly God believes in us all.