I’m the master of putting things off. I’ve put off putting fuel in my van to the point where I ran out of fuel. In the middle of summer. With 4 young kids in the back. I put of going to the dentist for 15 years. I put off calling friends, writing my book, reading my bible, apologising and cleaning the shower. When I ran this list past my husband he added a few other things.
I think we all have things we put off. You can probably make your own list – or have someone who could help you out! If we compared lists, we might find that many of us put off sharing our faith. We agree it’s good and important. In fact, most of us will have had our lives completely changed because somebody else didn’t put it off – but we still reluctant to take it on.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could find some momentum for evangelism? Wouldn’t it be good for all of us if we could find the energy and inspiration to go out and share our faith? One place we can find help is Matthew 28:16-20.
“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.””
The first thing the gathered church does is worship the risen Jesus. And why shouldn’t they? Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth – He is ruling over all creation! This is good news. We know from the life of Jesus, that his rule brings hope and healing and wholeness. We know his death has paid the penalty for all our sins and shame. And we know his resurrection is a demonstration of his authority and power to give life to all who believe in him. The right response to this news is worship.
Our lives should be overflowing with worship. Every part of our lives should be joyfully submitted to the Lordship of Jesus as we know he is the one who saves us and gives our lives meaning, purpose and satisfaction.
However, it is the purpose of all humanity – not just the church, to enjoy God and worship him. People everywhere can now live life with their sins forgiven, their shame covered over, their longing for love satisfied. But for them to know this, someone must tell them. And that’s the purpose of the church.
So in verse 19 we see Jesus tells his disciples they are to go and make disciples. This news that Jesus is now the loving ruler of the world must be shared with the world by the people who know it to be true.
From the very beginning the purpose of the church was to go out into the world and make disciples. Jesus could have chosen any method in heaven and on earth for the news to get out – he literally could have had the stones cry out that Jesus is the risen King! But he uses his authority to send out the church. It’s our privilege to cry out to a hurting and aching world! He chose us!
Yet we are reluctant to go. We put it off. But it costs us to keep finding reasons to not embrace evangelism. Putting it off impacts on our church health, our growth and our ability to do good in the community. What does it say about our worship if we aren’t prepared to go and make disciples? How can minister to people if we never meet them? How can there be fellowship or discipleship if the church doesn’t keep growing? Evangelism isn’t the only purpose of the church, but without it we will struggle to flourish in any other area. We can’t keep putting it off.
So what does it mean for us to go and make disciples? Well firstly it means we must leave the mountain where we worship. We must go. But what does this mean? What does that look like?
Our minds immediately turn to overseas mission – and of course going means that. So I would encourage your church to be as involved in overseas mission as you can be. Train people, send people, pray, give financial support, visit and stay in touch. But it’s not the only thing “go” means. Going isn’t just the purpose of a few keen beans willing to give up financial security, family and health for the sake of sharing Jesus with others. All of us have been commissioned to go.
For most of us, going isn’t just physical – it’s relational. It means being involved with people who don’t yet follow Jesus. Going means knowing others.
Recently many around the world were saddened by the death of Billy Graham. I saw an interview on American TV between a TV host and a lady who was a friend of Billy Graham. The TV host said to her. “There is no one else like Billy Graham is there?” “Who else is there today with his kind of message?” And Billy Graham’s friend replied “There are so many people of faith. So many sincere Christians. It might be your plumber. God has his people everywhere”.
Friends – that means you. You are God’s people scattered throughout the world, armed with the same message that Billy Graham had. There may not ever be anyone like Billy who will preach to millions again, but there are millions of Christians who can share the good news. How many people would hear the news about Jesus if each Christian shared with at least 5 people! God wants to use you to make disciples. It’s his plan. It is the purpose he has given you. Make the most of the opportunities God gives you. Be open about your relationship with Jesus. Pray for other people and love them. Journey with them. Going is all about knowing. Know what people are afraid of. Know what’s happening in people’s lives. Know how you can help them. And look for ways you can connect the good news of Jesus to their story.
- How is the resurrection of Jesus relevant to your life?
- What do you enjoy about worship?
- Do you agree that putting off evangelism impacts our worship?
- What does “going” look like in your context?
- What steps can you take to stop putting off evangelism?