Growing up, my parents were not strict, as long as we were obedient to what they asked of me and my brother. When my dad told us to clean our rooms, that meant an inspection of how well we had followed orders was soon to come. I can only recall one time in which my dad specifically asked me to clean my room, and I didnt do it. I told him I would do it, but I went in my room, closed the door, and proceeded to play video games for the remainder of the afternoon. Now in my mind, I really had planned to get to it. But I was just having so much fun. A few hours went by and I heard dad’s footsteps coming up the stairs. Immediately, I remembered what he had asked me to do, and time was up. When dad opened my bedroom door, he was very disappointed in me. There was no reward or pat on the head for doing a good job, because I had disobeyed his orders. All that I had to look forward to was punishment.
Imagine a different scenario for a moment. Imagine that when you were a kid, your dad had asked you to go and clean your room. He had even given you a whole week to accomplish this task. When the week was over, your dad comes into your room to find the room is still a wreck. With a proud smile on your face, you look at the bulging blood vein on your daddy’s angry face and say this to him…..
“Hey dad! Guess what! I memorized what you said when you asked me to clean my room! In fact, my friends and I all got together this week and did a devotional of sorts of what it would actually look like if I cleaned my room! We’re planning on really studying the topic of cleaning our rooms! We might even do a sermon series on it!”
Do you honestly think your dad is going to look at your wreck of a room, and just because you “memorized” his orders, tell you that you did a good job? Of course not! He’s going to be furious! Especially if you had a whole week to get it done and you didnt obey him! Even a little child knows that it would be foolish to attempt something like this! A child knows that when his parents, especially his father, gives him or her an order, it had better be followed, or some form of punishment will be expected!
And sadly, this is a snapshot of what the church is slowly becoming today. We read scriptures about denying ourselves, about giving to the poor, about fleeing from sexual immorality, drunkenness, and idolatry, and about going to the ends of the earth with a burden to preach the gospel all the time. We even memorize these scriptures and listen to sermons and sit in bible studies about what it looked like when the disciples followed Christ’s commands. But for many professing believers, their faith never gives birth to action and actually following Jesus.
I have been on somewhat of a soul searching journey in the past few weeks. And one of the questions I asked of myself was, “Am I a person that really desires to do the will of God?” The Bible is so very specific in communicating the commands of God. Yet there are so many aspects of my life that look nothing like that of the disciples in scripture.
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19.
This was the command Jesus gave to the disciples and the church before ascending into Heaven. And Ive really examined this scripture in my own life. We live in such a backwards society. Christ’s orders are clear. He didnt say sit in a pew and take notes every Sunday. He didnt say work on building your financial resume. He didnt say purchase the next new I Phone. Why are we here? Why do we exist? We exist for God’s glory! And to accomplish the mission of preaching the Gospel to all nations.
But instead, American church culture has turned into this feed me, bless me, look after my needs type animal. We pride ourselves on how many bible studies we attend, or how many notebooks we fill up with Sunday morning notes, or how many scriptures we memorize in Sunday School, but how many of us are truly living obediently to scripture?
Let me ask you a question that may step on some toes, just as it does mine….
How many disciples have you made? And if you have made disciples in the past, is it something you are continuing to do today? Is it the driving force in your life, or does Facebook or a smart phone hold the position?
Here’s another question….How many people have you baptized in your life? You see, Jesus never said that this order was only for the clergy of the Church. He never said these orders were strictly for those who have been to a seminary college. Jesus commanded uneducated fishermen, tax collectors, and a former murder to repent of their evil ways. To take up their crosses and follow after him. To deny themselves that which is of the flesh and set their eyes on the riches of eternity. And to go out, putting everything in their lives as second to the mission of making disciples.
And to me, it just seems like this is what he is asking of us today. It seems to me that some where along the way, the commands of Christ have just been watered down to memorizing scripture and sitting in a pew. And while these are good things, if we are neglecting the mission at hand, then we are living a disobedient life. In the book of Matthew, Jesus speaks of Heaven as a narrow road leading to a narrow gate. He goes on to say that few will find that gate, and few will enter.
That verse terrifies me. And I have to ask myself, “Why is it that few will enter?” Jesus calls us to repent and believe and become disciples who follow after him. Following after him means being obedient to Him! Jesus says in 1 John that those who love him obey his commands. So if we are truly his disciples, we are obedient to his commands! So the question must be asked of yourself, “Does your idea of obedience match up the the accomplishment of Christ’s orders?”
So I have begun digging into scripture more than ever. Because I want to know what Jesus expects of me. I dont want to just accept things because Ive heard it in a sermon. What would our lives look like if we really studied scripture privately in our own lives? The founder of Heartcry Missionary Society (Heartcrymissionary.com), Paul Washer, once said, “Jesus is everything in your life or he is nothing.” Don’t miss the blunt truth in that statement! Is Christ everything in your life? Is he what consumes your thoughts? Do his final commands of going out and making disciples burden your soul daily?
Francis Chan gave a great analogy. If you lived on a remote island, separated from modern church culture all of your life, and all you had was the Bible to base your view of God on, how different would you be? I mean if you were on this island and all you did was read the bible from cover to cover over and over, and then one day you were rescued and taken to a modern day church service, would what you were seeing in the American church match up to what you had always read in scripture?
The picture of church that we see in the book of Acts shows radical reactions to hearing the preaching of the gospel. When Peter and Paul preached, one of two things happened. Those they were preaching to either tried to run them out of town or stone them, or they became missional follower of Jesus, joining their cause in preaching the gospel wherever they were and making disciples.
The reactions in our culture today to the preaching of the gospel is not the same as it was in scripture for the most part. Its now more of an attitude of indifference. The disciples of Jesus Christ now have been watered down by political correctness. We come to church, we study the bible, but when it comes to making disciples and being bold in our faith, we really dont want to hurt people’s feelings. It just isnt the proper thing to do regarding sharing Christ in public. The worst thing that can ever happen to you as a follower is Christ is to become civilized in our faith.
If you really read the Bible cover to cover, and took the teachings of Jesus literally, how different would your life look? Thats the question I am currently asking myself. How different would my life look? Just going to church, being a good person, and attending bible study doesnt make you an obediant follower of Christ. Just because I happen to be in the ministry doesnt mean I am an obedient follower of Christ. We are not saved by association with the church!
A soldier is not considered a soldier just because he wears a uniform and lives on a military base. A soldier is a soldier because he is obedient to his commanding office, and will willingly give his life to accomplish his or her given mission. There is nothing more important than the mission a soldier is given. The mission is everything. Let me ask you the same question Im asking myself….
Is the mission, the commands of Christ, everything in your life? Because this is one question that we cannot afford to be wrong about. Personally, for myself, I want to be sure about this. Is Christ really everything to me? Is there anything more important in my life! When Jesus was speaking the the rich man in Luke, the rich man asked what he had to do to become Christ’s follower. Jesus answered he must sell all his possession and give them to the poor. The rich man held his possession as a far greater treasure than Christ, and rejected Jesus.
What is your mindset regarding this world we live in? The Bible said Jesus created humanity for HIS GLORY! He created everything for himself! I dont think Jesus is glorified if our only goal is to live a happy little life. We are here on a mission for Christ! How many of us are active soldiers on this mission? I dont believe Jesus is going to say, “Well done my good and faithful servant” to those who made Christ as an accessory to the life they desired. Rather I believe those words are reserved for those who have built their lives around Christ. True joy comes out of serving the mission of God.
John Piper once said, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” Ive heard of married couples saying they need to work on strengthening their marriage first and foremost. Then after that is done they will come to Christ. People say I need to achieve all my dreams to be happy first. Then they claim they will serve Christ. Thats kind of like someone saying, “I want to get in shape so I can start jogging.” If you jog, you’ll get in shape. If you are obedient to Christ and his mission, your marriage will grow stronger. Your life will be more joyful. And you will serve a greater purpose than merely living for yourself.
Ive grown to love writing this blog because its sort of like a venue where I can share exactly what Christ is showing me in my own walk. I dont have all the answers. All I know for certain is the truth I read in scripture. And Ive got to know for myself just how obedient I am to Christ. As Francis Chan once asked, “Am I am man who truly even wants the will of God?” I think its a question far to few of us ask ourselves. We can’t afford to be wrong about this.