I’ve been wondering lately how we’ve wandered so far away from what the LORD called us to be – Disciples.
We started out in the right direction during those first few centuries…loving, serving, healing, restoring, forgiving, sharing, praying…every one either learning to be a disciple, being a disciple, or training others to be disciples… But somewhere along the way, we turned into serious slackers – slugs even.
We benched ourselves, and appointed a “chosen few” to do what Jesus and the Father called us all to do, and we sat down to watch. We opted for disobedience and convenience. Why did we do that?
We, as the people of God, chose inertia over “doing the stuff”… We ignored God’s command to “take dominion over the earth and subdue it” and to “take the gospel to all the world”, for the pleasures of more mundane, less challenging “kingdoms” and a permanent pew cushion. Folks, we’ve messed this job up big time–but, thank God it’s not too late to repent.
What is it that Jesus requires of us (who call ourselves “believers”)? Here’re a few clues.
This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. (John 15:13)
These signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new languages; they will pick up snakes with their hands, and whatever poison they drink will not harm them; they will place their hands on the sick and they will be well. (Mark 16:17-18)
Do we claim we are “believers”? So where is the evidence that Jesus said will follow our belief? What “signs” are we generating? Exactly what is it about our life that blesses or heals the world we live with and in?
As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near!’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give. (Matthew 10:7-8)
. . . you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher and you are all brothers [and sisters]. . . call no one your ‘father’ on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:8-12)
Give to the one who asks you, and do not reject the one who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:42-45)
I give you a new commandment — to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples — if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35)
And, to help us get the job done, He gave us full authority as disciples to govern in His name:
I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven. Again, I tell you the truth, if two of you on earth agree about whatever you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three are assembled in my name, I am there among them. (Matthew 18:18-20)
I’ve been taking depressing stock lately, of whether His signs follow my presence in the world; of how often, in His name, I’ve forgiven, admonished, blessed, healed, delivered, cast out demons, or even abandoned my impulse to be seen as “important.” How many times have I left whatever momentary pleasure I cherished to follow Jesus with my whole heart, mind, soul, and substance? It’s been a sobering assessment.
And I’m also rethinking what it means to take authority in the name of Jesus over the strongholds that bind my world and yours. When was the last time any of us used the authority He gave us in His Word to actively take authority over darkness, sin, violence, evil, or even our own, fallen natures? When was the last time we did anything for the Kingdom without making sure the rest of the world, all the members of our small group, our “spiritual mentor”, and especially our pastor, knew about it?
We see a suffering world and we respond not by freely, and anonymously, sharing the gifts He has blessed us with, but by quickly hiding or burying whatever potential or talent we have to share. When we do extend ourselves, by praying, serving, giving, or going on missions excursions, we look for a pastoral pat on the back, or some acknowledgement that we’re important, expecting to be compensated with some “leadership” position, or at least an acknowledgment from the pulpit that we are “leadership material” for our efforts. It’s not a pretty picture.
I believe that if we don’t forsake these embarassing cravings for power and recognition, and our indifference to and contempt for the world, and be about the Father’s business – meeting our world’s urgent need for Jesus, and for healing, restoration, deliverance, etc, our Father’s performance review is going to sting, big time… Telling Him, “It wasn’t my job” is not gonna stay His wrath, because, according to the Word He left us, it was and is . . .
Jesus said, “If you were really blind, you would be blameless, but since you claim to see everything so well, you’re accountable for every fault and failure. (John 9:41)