This is the second message in our series “Think About It: Christian Cliches… what’s this even mean?” Last week’s cliche was “Let Go, Let God.”
Imagine for a moment that all the church leaders came to you for advice, seeking your vast wisdom on the question, “What should the church be doing in the world?” What would you say?
You’d probably encourage the church to talk about God, to pray for people, to help the needy. What else would be on your list… and honestly ask yourself, “Am I doing those things?”
It’s so much easier (and comfortable!) to tell others what they’re supposed to be doing. When it’s our turn to be the doer… it becomes far more risky. When it’s our turn to start evangelizing or sacrificing our time and our stuff in order to serve those in need, that’s when we’re tempted to cry out, “That’s not my gift!” Too often, that’s nothing phrase is an excuse to avoid doing something risky and difficult.
Every Christian’s Calling
No one would tell the bank they failed to pay their mortgage for the last year because “finances aren’t my gift.” The bank’s lawyer would probably reply, “Yeah, well that’s too bad. I hope packing boxes is your gift, because you need to pay up or move out.”
Matthew 28:18-20 records some of Jesus’ last words, often referred to as the “Great Commission.” In this passage he gives the clearest picture of what the Church is called to do. These are simply things that every Christian is called to do.
Technically, “make disciples” is the only verb in this passage. The other words that look like verbs (go, baptizing, teaching) are all participles, which means they are there in order to explain how to accomplish what the verb tells you to do(making disciples).
A “disciple” is someone who follows and learning from a teacher. Are you growing as a disciple of Jesus Christ? One of the great things about discipleship is that it never happens alone!
Isn’t it crazy how difficult it can be to talk about your faith with other Christian friends? Why is it so hard to say, “Hey, let’s pray about that”… and then actually pray together about it. If we can start doing that with our Christian friends, we’re growing as disciples together.
Evangelism requires words, because it’s not about what you have done (YOU are not the gospel); instead, the message is about Jesus Christ and the invitation into relationship with God through faith.
If you wiggle out of evangelism by saying “It’s not my gift,” then you don’t have an evangelism problem… you have a relationship problem with Jesus. What would happen if you loved Jesus so much you couldn’t avoid talking about him? What if you were so amazed by his grace towards you that you wanted others to know his cleansing grace too?
In the Great Commission Jesus talks about the importance of baptism. That might seem out of place until we remember baptism is the “front door” into the the church. It’s a visual way to declare, “I am a Christian… I am a member of the people of God.”
People value membership. Every year I write recommendation letter for students hoping to be granted membership in the National Honor Society. It’s a big deal when they get accepted. But for some reason, when it comes to church, many people attend for years without becoming members. Why is that?!
You can be a Christian without getting baptized and without being a church member. But why would you want to avoid things that Jesus clearly says we should value? If you haven’t been baptized, then I’d love to talk with you about that!
If we are not teaching and reminding each other what God has taught through Scripture then we’re in trouble. This means we need to know what the Bible teaches, and we need the guts to teach what the Bible teaches. It also means we need to be involved in people’s lives enough that we know how to apply God’s Word to their lives, and we have built up enough trust to be able to teach them to obey Scripture.
So How Do Learn Your Specific Gifts?
The Great Commission reminds us what ever Christian is called to do. We will be stronger in one area than in others, but we must not avoid faithfulness because it’s difficult.
God designed you a certain way. He made you good at things other people aren’t good at. He gave you passions about things that bore others. Use these gifts and passions to accomplish the four callings summarized above. Take some time to reflect on the following questions to help you discern your specific gifts.
- What gives you life and joy?
- When do you hear, “You’re good at that!”
- When do you feel confident?
- What are you passionate about (even if you aren’t good at it yet)?
Take the risk, and prayerfully ask God to show you how to use your gifts and passions while being faithful to the Great Commission. You may not be good at it yet, but God is faithful!
Finally, remember this: you don’t need to do it alone! Ask for help, and take risks for Christ with some other friends and see God’s faithfulness shine through.