Monday, February 29, 2016
Monday Morning Rewind: Engagement
So why did we use the word "engagement?" For one thing, we did it because the word "missions" is not found in the Bible--not even a trace! Add to this the roughly 200 years of cultural baggage this term carries around the world--including the modern assumptions about it by many Christians--and its just not helpful.
The term "evangelism" by contrast, does have deep Biblical roots. It simply refers to the spreading of the good news that God has fully and finally revealed Himself in the person of Jesus, and that through Jesus all people have the opportunity to have their sins forgiven, an be reunited in relationship with our Creator.
That is, by far, the best news in the world in the history of the world! So why do we struggle so much with the concept? Because this term too has accumulated a lot of cultural baggage. When we hear it, some of us think of "cold calling" door-to-door and being highly confrontational with people we have never met. Still others invoke the image of the loud, gaudy televangelist providing simplistic answers to complex issues while simultaneously promising quick rewards--if we will only send him or her our money!
True evangelism is sharing the best news in the world with people in whose proximity we are normally found. That means we are engaging the people we see regularly, and with whom we are in relationship, with this great story. That is at the heart of all Jesus commands us in Matthew 28:16-20, and it involves four things:
I. Preparing for Disciples. Getting ready to share this wonderful message requires an intentional focus on WORSHIP--the very thing we looked at together last week. And there is a reason for this. When we are sharing our faith with others, our confidence--ALL of it--has to flow from the identity of Jesus.
Think about it. Jesus' original disciples didn't have our seminaries, our money, our ecclesiastical structures, or our knowledge of the globe. The context of the "Great Commission" is Jesus telling around 500 people or so who had no map, no airplane, and for most, no ability to even read (the illiteracy rate in the first century was around 90%) to cover the world with His message. They accomplished it in around 70 years! They were able to do this because they had built their confidence in Him, not themselves.
Building that confidence requires preparation in the form of genuine worship, and confidence in Christ's authority.
II. Making Disciples. And the process of doing this is to be followed "as you are going." IN other words, don't make room for evangelism. Share your faith where and when you already are! Its great to get on a plane, fly to the other side of the world, and serve others in the name of Jesus. But if that same passion doesn't fuel and inform our regular, daily activities, we really have no business doing it anywhere else
Everyone has a "sphere of influence"--people you have close contact with that others don't. Who is that person that no one else at Covenant Church can get to but you? Who is that person who would never set foot inside one of our worship services unless YOU asked them to come? Who is that person in your daily course of life who will never hear about Jesus from anyone else but you? Invest in them. Serve them. Love them. Share with them. And if they believe, Baptize them!
III. Training Disciples. This happens by word--giving instruction to others and helping them to grow in their faith. It also happens in deed, because Jesus said to teach them "all I have Commanded you." Simply put, you and I are to be growing and developing as Jesus' followers, thereby setting an example of what a disciple looks like to those not as far down the road as we may be.
IV Being Disciples. We do all of this never forgetting the last words Matthew records here: "I am with you always...." Through the up, down, good, bad and ugly, Jesus is there, suffering with us, laughing and crying with us, and in the process making us more like Himself.
So here is the question: Is there anyone you can point to and say "they are going to be in heaven because of me!"? A year from now, 2.5 million Americans now alive will be dead, and at least 2/3 of them (1.6 million) will go into that next world with no relationship to Jesus. In that same time period, 54 million people around the world will meet their Maker, and an even greater majority of that population will spend eternity separated from God.
What are you doing to change that?