Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58
How do we stay focused? By understanding two simple words, we will be helped greatly-mutual-faith and encouraged. Mutual-faith means encouragement, support, and using spiritual gifts, all working as a team. This is the strength of the church; without it, we will fail. Examples of being encouraged are found throughout the Scriptures. One of the chief purposes of the Church is to encourage and strengthen one another in faith for His service, something so few of us actually do. Look up the verses to this section in Appendix IV and see for yourself how God empowers us, then calls us to empower one another.
We need to beware of failing to hear the call of our Lord because of the noise of our will. Being set apart for the Gospel is to be totally at the disposal of our Lord and Master. If we refuse or think we cannot do it, consider this: we have our plans, He has His. Guess what? His plans will win out! Paul's will was conquered because of his gratitude and indebtedness to Christ. Are you totally submitted to God's ways? Do you feel indebted, or do you feel owed? Being "poured out" means to take the focus off yourself and place it on others, as Christ did for us (Galatians 2:20-21). We do this because what we gain is so much more, such as peace, serenity, confidence, contentment, hope, and especially His Fruit impacting us and those around us. Paul spent his life in expressing this. Jesus gives us the ultimate example of being poured out. Our response is to be, He must become greater; I must become less (John 3: 30)!
"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." Matthew 10:37-39
Real faith means we are learning and impacting. This characterizes Evangelism and Discipleship. These two words, Evangelism and Discipleship, are not easy ones because they go against our pride and will. They cut into our time and plans; they bring us out of our comfort zone into the seemingly scary areas of life. They even have a cost. Following Christ will cost us and will require effort and consistency. The original disciples left their families and good jobs. If you are thinking, well, they were just fishermen. I have a "real" job, I have a family, or, I am important, consider this: Jesus did not call bums who had nothing better to do! These people, contrary to popular belief, had good jobs and were educated. I have no idea how the theme that the disciples were uneducated men in dead-end jobs came about. In fact, fishing was one of the best and most lucrative jobs you could have in that time and culture, as was being a carpenter. The disciples had the equivalent of a college education, as they attended schools and were able to read and write well. They did not have the further formal education that the Scribes and Pharisees had which would be equivalent to a Ph.D. today. That is the reason the Pharisees looked down at them-because they did not have their "education" and "title," and they were not under the care of another Rabbi-not because they were uneducated at all. They did it, countless others have done it, and, you know what? You can do it, too. Grow in faith and be used by Christ!
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" Isaiah 6:8
Evangelism and Discipleship are perhaps the chief characteristics that most churches somehow forget. They are also the quintessential aspects and reasons the church exists. So, why is it that so few churches actually have disciple-making as a primary ministry? For most churches, it is something they think they are already doing, when, in fact, they are not. Saying that going to church on Sunday is discipleship, or providing a couple of "token" adult Sunday School classes that few attend is not discipleship. Some churches throw it in as an afterthought, or may offer a class or something related to the subject.
We may not be called to the radical commitment the Disciples were. You can rest assured that Jesus will never call you to literally leave your family; in most cases, He would rather you stay where you are. What Jesus wants is for us to trust and follow Him in our will and mindsets so we grow in the faith and then become contagious with our faith to others. We are called to seize the dream-the call that He gives us-and pursue it with enthusiasm, certainty, and truth-His Truth. We can best do this in the relationships and connections we already have, even before we set out to make new ones. Jesus may then call us to venture out, but He will also give us the ability and desire to do so. We are first called to reconcile-us to Him and then us to others. We are not called to break away from our current relationships unless there are circumstances that make it necessary to do so. Before we go to the beach or mall and set up an "evangelism shop," we need to ask ourselves, have I modeled His character with kindness, patience, and tact to the friends I already have? Tracts and other Christian resources can be used; they are important and help people down the road, but they are not the key factors or even the main tools for us to use. Over 90 percent of people come to faith through interpersonal relationships, friends, family, coworkers, and such. You are the main factor and tool. Very few will people come to faith in Christ from a table with tracts by a supermarket. That does not mean we do not set up "shop;" rather, we are to focus on being better at being used. We are best used by how we are to others!
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7
Jesus calls us to be disciples, and that means commitment. Jesus expects us to know what we are getting into and embrace it with vigor and faith. The point is, nothing can come before Him! We must embrace our call and responsibility to be discipled and to make disciples. If we are truly willing to learn and apply what Christ teaches, if we can really respond with gratitude for that which He has given us, we will truly be His disciples. The Church will be on fire by the Spirit and genuinely impacting the world. Heeding our call to bring the message of Christ's love and reconciliation takes a determination to follow through-to follow Him. Does this sound too far-reaching, too scary? Consider this: what we gain will far outweigh any suffering or loss on our part. If, and, or when we hear God's call depends on our ears, our will, and our attitude. God does not force us or plead with us; He merely presents us with the option. We must say, as Isaiah said, Here I am, send me! We must allow our spiritual eyes to be opened and our will to be relinquished to His for real discipleship to take place. Then, our churches will grow in prayer, worship, and maturity-and we may even see revival take place!
Evangelism and discipleship are perhaps the chief characteristics that most churches somehow forget. Make sure you do not forget!
Questions to Ponder
1. What does your net of faith look like? Why do we need a net to catch fish?
2. What would your life look like-both personally and publicly-if your faith was really and fully empowered and fueled by your trust in Him?
3. What would radical commitment mean to your life?
4. How can you start to implement a faith that is more responsible and focused?
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:1- 5
Some passages to consider: Isaiah 55:11; Luke 5:20; Romans 1:16-17; 5:6; 8:5-9; Colossians 2:6-7; 4:5-6; 1 Peter 3:15
© 1999, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org