Saturday, March 03, 2007

Become A Missionary

A Religion Professor named Dr. Christianson taught a required survey of Christianity course at small college. Every freshman was required to take the course regardless of his or her major. Although he tried hard to communicate the gospel, students viewed the class as nothing more than a waste of time.

One particular year Dr. Christianson had a student named Steve. Steve was the Center for the college football team and also a strong Christian who intended on going to Seminary. One day Dr. Christianson had an idea and he asked Steve to stay after class. "How many push ups can you do?" He asked. Steve said, "I do 200 every night." The professor asked Steve if he could do 300. "I have never done 300 before" Steve said, "but I think I can do it." "Good," the professor said, and he proceeded to tell his plan to Steve.

Friday came and Steve got to class early. Dr. Christianson came in with a large box of fluffy, cream filled doughnuts. The class was excited, it was Friday the last class of the day, and they could start their weekend early. Dr. Christianson went to the first girl in the row and asked, "Cynthia would you like a donut?" "Yes," she said. Dr. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve would you do ten push-ups so that Cynthia can have a donut?" "Sure." Steve jumped down out of his desk and counted off ten push ups. Dr. Christianson laid the donut on Cynthia’s desk. Joe was next. He asked Joe the same question and Joe said "yes." Steve did 10 more pushups and the professor laid the doughnut on Joe’s desk. And so it went all the way down the first row and half way down the second until it came to Scott. He was a basketball player and friendly to female companionship. Scott replied to the professor’s question by saying, "I want the doughnut if I can do my own push ups." Dr. Christianson said, "No Steve has to do the pushups." Then Scott said, "Well I don’t want one if I can’t do my own." Dr. Christian turned around and asked, "Steve, would you do ten push ups so Scoot can have a donut he doesn’t want." Scott said, "hey! I said I didn’t want one!" Dr. Christianson said, "Look, this is my classroom, my class, my desks, and these are my donuts, Just leave it on the desk if you don’t want it." And he put the donut on Scott’s desk.

Steve had begun to slow down a little and sweat had began to form on his cheeks. Dr. Christianson started down the third row. Students were beginning to get a little angry. Dr. Christianson asked Jenny, "Jenny, do you want a donut?" Sternly, Jenny said, "NO!" Then Dr. Christianson asked, "Steve, would you do ten more push ups so Jenny can have a donut that she doesn’t want?" Steve did ten-Jenny got a doughnut.

By now a sense of uneasiness had filled the room. The students were all beginning to say "no." There were uneaten donuts on every desk. Steve was now putting forth a lot of extra effort to get the pushups done for each doughnut. A small pool of sweat was on the floor, his face was red, and you could see the sweat soaking through his shirt. Dr. Christianson asked Robert, the most vocal unbeliever in class, to watch to make sure Steve did the full ten. Dr. Christianson started down the forth row. Students from other classes had came in and were sitting along the side of the room watching on. When the professor saw them he counted and saw that there were now 34 people in the room. He was worried about Steve, "Could he do that many push ups?" Jason, a recent transfer student, didn’t know what was going on and came in to see. The class yelled, "Go away! Don’t come in!" Steve picked up his head and said, "let him come in." Jason was asked and he said "yes." "Steve will you do ten push ups so Jason can have a donut?" Steve did ten pushups very slowly and with great struggle. Jason, confused, was handed a donut and he sat down. Dr. Christianson then finished the fourth row and began on the visitors. Steve’s arms were shaking uncontrollably with each push up. By this time sweat was pouring off of his face and arms. The very last two students were cheerleaders. "Linda, do you want a donut?" Linda cried and said, "no thank you." Professor turned to Steve, "Steve would you do ten push ups so Linda can have a donut she doesn’t want?"

Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten very slow push ups for Linda. The last girl was Susan. "Susan would you like a donut?" Susan was full of tears and did not answer. "Steve would you do ten push ups so Susan can have a donut?" Susan asked, "Dr. Christianson why can’t I help him?" Dr. Christianson had tears in his eyes also and replied, "I have given him this task and he is in charge of seeing that everyone has an opportunity for a donut whether they want it or not. When I decided to have a party I looked at the grade book and found that Steve was the only person with a perfect grade. All of you had failed a test, skipped class, or turned in inferior work. Steve told me that in football practice, when a player messes up he must do push ups. I told Steve that none of you could come to my party unless he paid the price by doing your push ups. He and I made a deal for your sakes."

Steve slowly got up off the floor, he had done 350 push ups, his arms buckled beneath him as he started to get up. Two students helped Steve up off the floor and to a seat, physically exhausted, but wearing a thin smile. "Well done good and faithful servant", said the professor, "not all sermons are preached in words class." Turning the the students the professor said, "My wish is that you may fully comprehend all the riches of grace and mercy that have been given to you through the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God did not spare His only Son but gave him up for all of us. Whether or not we accept His gift is our choice. The price has been paid. Wouldn’t you be foolish and ungrateful to leave it lying on the desk?...

I’m always amazed at the number of people who won’t share their faith in Christ with others. Out of fear, stubbornness or even selfishness many Christians treat their relationship with Jesus Christ as though it was a dark nasty secret and if found out would ruin their lives.

In one of the most overlooked passages in the bible Jesus actually commands his followers to go tell people about him. I say the passage is overlooked because many people have heard and read it, they just refuse to be obedient to it.

Matthew 28:18-20
18Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

I don’t understand how people can read this passage and just ignore it. There’s no secret code involved. It’s not a riddle and there is nothing to try and figure out. Right there, plain as day, black and white from the mouth of Jesus you are commanded to “go” make disciples. You can’t even play it off by saying that it was something the preacher told you to do and since you don’t like the preacher you’re not going to do it.

It wasn’t the preacher who told you to do this it was Jesus Christ. By choosing not to obey this command you are choosing not to obey Jesus.

What I want to do is break Jesus’ command down into six parts that will help us understand not only the calling but also the priority in fulfilling that calling.

“All authority” – Jesus is the ultimate source of authority. He establishes that fact when he says that, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Who gave Him such authority? God did. Jesus is the most powerful being in all the universe. There is no power above Him and there are none who are not subject to him.

I cringe when I hear people call the devil the prince of the earth or the ruler of the world. The truth is that there is no ruler, no power and no authority other than Jesus Christ.

“Therefore” – Connecting word that links the two verses together. Our action is based on the understanding of the authority of Jesus Christ. You are either obedient to that authority or not but you will not be able to deny that authority.

Jesus establishes himself first as the ultimate source of authority and then connects his authority to the command.

“Go” – Verb/Action word. This word literally means what it says, go! It means to leave or not to stay. We’ve built churches and have modified our personal evangelism styles so that people can come to us on their own terms at their own comfort level.

We’ve become so concerned with offending someone and so fearful of rejection that we have stopped going and started waiting. We’ll talk to people about God only after we find out that they are believers as well. Instead of going we are satisfied with spreading the Gospel only in our bible study groups and call it good.

My friend, that is not going it is waiting and is disobedient to Christ’s command. Find a short term mission trip to be a part of, join your church’s outreach team and do more than just contact church members through it. Go to work and proclaim Christ, go to your neighbors and to your family. Go into your world and proclaim Christ. That’s what missionaries do. They go and take the Gospel wherever they are called.

You can make all the excuses that you want to try to make yourself feel better but truth is truth and failing to follow this command is a willful act of disobedience.

“Make Disciples” – Doesn’t say “find” disciples. It says make them.

A man walked up to a vending machine, put in a coin, pressed the buttons labeled, “coffee, double cream, sugar.” No cup appeared, but the nozzles went into action sending forth coffee, cream and sugar. After the proper amounts had gone down the drain, the machine turned off.
“Now that’s real automation,” said the man. “This thing even drinks it for you.” That is just how some people want their faith. They want to make a deposit, put in some money and let the rest be taken care of automatically. But, there is no such thing as automated prayers, devotion, worship in song or service.

You’ll never make any disciples by stating where you are physically and spiritually.

“Baptizing & Teaching” – The church’s responsibility is to baptize and teach. By that I mean the institution of the church. The pastor’s job is to equip the saints of God to do the work of God. It is the congregation’s responsibility to do the actual work. Without you committing to discipleship through baptism and then following through in actual discipleship the church, the body of Christ, will die.

“I am with you” – Our security is found in Christ. Do you understand what that means? Remember, he is the ultimate authority in the universe and holds all the power that comes with such a title. Not only is he on your side he is actually with you every step of the way, providing comfort, strength and security as you advance His Kingdom.

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