What is your reasonable act of sacrifice in the light of what Christ has done for you? Willingness to act on the instructions within scripture to be faithful sharing the Gospel with those who have never heard it—in Houston or Harare, Atlanta or Afghanistan—is a real act of sacrifice, requiring humility and boldness. Anyone anywhere can reach out beyond their own tribe. This has been my own experience — in Texas of all places—and God is blessing our meager efforts toward bold love.
HOW CAN WE BE BOLD IN LOVE TOWARDS OTHERS?
We need to begin by remembering the driving motive behind our reaching out: the universal love of God as expressed in the Great Commission. We are people of the Great Commandment AND the Great Commission. We are called to go to the uttermost parts of the earth to spread the good news of God’s love, though sometimes that means sharing God’s love with those parts of the earth that have come to live in our own communities—welcome to the (Glocal) world!
Early missions taught us about the nations, the peoples, their cultures, their beliefs and worldviews— and of course, how to share our faith with people in different lands. But it also assumed that some people would go out in missions to other parts of the world, and the rest of us would pray and pay for them to do so. Missions was something other people did (perhaps missionaries); we learned about it through slide shows and the occasional short term missions trip, or from seasoned missionaries on furlough from faraway lands. That world is long gone and the glocal reality we now face presents us with wonderful challenges for the Gospel.
Part of this new reality should be the primacy of evangelism! We’ve relegated evangelism to the margins. But that’s the sort of thing we do with the Great Commission. We say, “Become a Christian, grow in your faith, and sometime somewhere down the line, we’ll talk about reaching out to others.” Instead, we should be encouraging one another to integrate the Great Commission into the very core of our identity as Christians. Jesus began his call to the apostles to follow him to be fishers of men before they even fully knew who he was. Our call to follow Christ to the lost and hurting, the broken and disenfranchised needs to become central to our faith and not periphery.Our call to follow Christ to the lost and hurting, the broken and disenfranchised needs to become central to our faith and not periphery. Click To Tweet
OPPORTUNITY BEFORE US
What do you see before you as you look at the world around? Danger? Threat? Challenges? Or opportunity? No other generation has had a greater opportunity right before them than we have right now (in so many ways). One such opportunity is vocational ministry. I believe every disciple—every member of the body of Christ—should use his vocation to serve humanity while sharing Jesus. Think about the opportunity in hard to reach places! We shouldn’t (just) do church; we should be the church functioning across the grid of society. We urgently need a reorientation theologically and pragmatically! The Great Commission will not be fulfilled because we raise up more preachers and missionaries like me, but because we raise up disciples who are willing to be the church every day, everywhere in regular jobs and relationships.I believe every member of the body of Christ should use his/her vocation to serve humanity while sharing Jesus. Think about the opportunity in hard to reach places! We shouldn’t just do church; we should be the church functioning… Click To Tweet
USE WHAT’S IN YOUR HANDS
Where do we start? What can ordinary believers really accomplish? When we build a relationship with someone, we should start with our hands. That is: we should serve others. Most people focus on the head, the heart, and then finally the hand. I believe just the opposite. We first start with the hand. We sweat together and we talk about our families; we get to know each other. Now we’ve captured each other’s heart and made friends with someone who was a stranger.
Even the Puritans had a concept by which they could work together for the common good, working with those who were not Christians but who might have shared some common values. I love working in the Islamic world. It gets me in trouble sometimes with my own tribe, but there are many similarities between Christian and Islamic values: we are both concerned for the poor, we value the importance of the family, and so on. Once we sweat together, we become friends. Once we become friends, trust is established and we are able to show God’s love very practically and it’s received more readily.
MOVE FROM HAND TO HEART
Once we have moved from hand to heart and established trust, we can talk about what we think; we begin to understand each other. Talking without first trusting leads to endless and fruitless debates. Talking with trust leads to genuine and deep conversations. We can talk about the things that matter most, once we trust one another – even when we profoundly disagree. I never have a single conversation to “finish the deal.” It’s many conversations. I grew up in a culture of manufacturing converts: share the facts and get them to pray the prayer. I’m not sure most of those people really understood what they were praying. Instead I want to build a relationship and share my faith, little by little, answering questions and considering objections, but doing all of that from a position of trust.
Most of us start with the head, and we get nowhere, because we have no relationship of trust to convey that we genuinely care and don’t view this person as a pawn in some religious game we are playing. When we start with the head and have a conversation about God too quickly, it becomes an argument. That never works. We wind up debating our views, and the result is that we divide too quickly and don’t develop a deep relationship. Starting with the hand and moving to the heart is the best approach!
The world we live in is different to what it was last week and last year! It seems as if change is the only constant. In the midst of this ever-changing world, we are able to reach beyond our tribe and deeply impact the lives of those around us. We can fulfill both the Great Commission and Greate Commandment as ordinary believers, and it begins by simply reaching out your hands and being a friend!