I have for some time considered writing a book on marriage. If you are a regular attender of Northstar, you have heard first hand the passion I have for the God created institution of marriage.
Writing a book is not easy. It still takes skill, commitment and a large investment of time. Getting it published, however, has changed from the days of getting rejection letters from publishers in the mail. With the proliferation of desktop computers, desktop publishing and lower cost printing, there are ways to self-publish a book that completely circumvents the world of traditional publishing.
I bring this up because it serves as a metaphor for our current Northstar series on the great commission entitled “GO.” There was a day when individuals or churches who wanted to make a difference for Christ around the world had little choice but to work with and through traditional structures, mostly missionaries. All that has changed. Like potential authors, Christ-followers and churches can carry out their grassroots great commission agenda in ways that circumvent traditional systems and cultures. This is not your father’s mission church. The GO series is about ways to identify the opportunities that each Christian has to change the world. We simply need to be available to God to be used as He has told us in His word. “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.” – Matthew 28:19-20.
The question I have asked myself and we should be asking ourselves is why isn’t this the burning mission and purpose of our lives? I believe our issue is not so much priority as it is perspective. I say it that way because often we look to the big names, the celebrity Christians, if you will, those who have big churches and have big programs and are on radio and TV to do The Great Commission and we sit back on our blessed assurance and watch. Or, we equate The Great Commission with missionaries living in primitive conditions to evangelize the “ghosts of the forest” Toulambi tribe of Papua New Guinea, first discovered in 1993. Obviously, not all of us are being called to New Guinea, so what are some of the ways that Joe Average, the individual, Christian can pursue The Great Commission?
The Great Commission is not just going overseas, it is also about the places you go to in the daily course of your life – going off to work, going off to school, and even when you are home. There are opportunities everywhere you go and in everything you do. We should not put pressure on ourselves to make disciples of all the nations, or think we have to convert 1000 people. No, just be faithful to be used by God to go and let Him make the disciples. We are asked to be ready to equip people with what we believe when God provides an opportunity. 1 Peter 3: 15 says “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
You are probably thinking, “O.K. Marty, when it comes to sharing my faith, sometimes I’d give myself a 7 in ability. Other times, I’d be exaggerating to give myself a 2.” I get that. I am the walking, talking, laughing, singing, stumbling, breathing evidence of Jesus Christ in this world. And so are you. But we’re placed on this earth to join in the fun and give it a try even when we are scared. It doesn’t mean we will always get it right. I don’t know that you can ever take all the fear out of evangelism and if someone wrote a book promising that, I wouldn’t buy it. I like and need to depend on God. I like going heart-first into situations where I’m surprised by His mercy and amazed at His power. Fear can be healthy and is often the invitation to “the more” with God – the more amazing prayer, the more amazing revelation of His character, and more amazing peace.
Remember, that the need (and want) of those around me for hope and healing is greater than my need to layout the gospel perfectly. And, that while salvation is a big deal, it’s God’s deal. Salvation is the work of the Holy Spirit. Revelation 12:11 says “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” When we understand this, The Great Commission shifts from communicating doctrine to talking freely about life lived out in the presence of Jesus Christ.
You are never alone. You walk in the presence of The Creator of the universe. God is for you and is with you. Let God do the heavy lifting—He’s much better than we are at it. Your call is simply to give it a try and go.