According to the Riches of His Grace

"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us…" -Ephesians 1:7-8

Category: Making Disciples

Young, Restless, and Taking Ourselves Way too Seriously

working-in-a-coffee-shop

I am in my twenties. In our current world, that means I am dubbed a millennial. However, in the current Christian world, that means I am part of the generation of the Young and Restless movement.

The Young and the Restless movement consists of a lot of hipster young adults and overly-ambitious college students. In a nutshell, this movement is all about changing the world and doing really big things in mission. Hence they are called restless.

So these young, hip men and women are always found sitting around coffee shops reading books like David Platt’s Radical or Katie Davis’s Kisses from Katie. They are very adamant about the causes they are passionate about.

These people like to go to conferences and get really excited about movements. One example is the annual Passion conference in Atlanta, GA. I love Passion. I went in 2013. Half of my favorite worship songs come from Passion.

I don’t want to go to Passion again. It’s the same stuff every year. John Piper is going to preach a sermon that you barely understand, Francis Chan is going to cry, the band is going to sing a song with massive jumping and dancing, and they are going to get you to draw red X’s on your hand in order to release 27 million people from slavery.

People go to Passion to change the world. “By going to Passion, we are shining a light on slavery!” “We are going to save all those people from slavery before we die!”

No you’re not. There will be slavery until Jesus returns. No matter how many Instagram pictures you post of your red X, those people are still in slavery.

This is my hang up with the Young and Restless movement: We take ourselves way to seriously. We sit around coffee shops talking really passionately about things like ending slavery, but in reality, we never do anything about it, except give money to a cause. 99.99999% of us are never going to pull a Liam Neeson and save a slave from their captor. And if we do, we’d have to do it 27 million more times to successfully end slavery. We are just going to talk about why everyone else needs to.

I do have a friend in Germany as a missionary working with women in slavery, but most people are going to be used by God for mission in the context of where they live. Most of us are like Timothy (doing ministry in one spot) instead of Paul (traveling around).

The Young and the Restless have great passion and energy, but we need to realign our focus. We need to stop thinking so global/big picture for ourselves and think in our actual context. The Kingdom of God doesn’t operate like a tidal wave, pouring over the entire land all at once. According to Jesus, it operates like a seed. (Mark 4:3-8; Matt. 13:31-32)

Jesus calls us to make disciples. (Matt. 28:19) This happens slowly. We have to plant a seed and nurture it as it grows. No forest springs up over night. It takes decades, even centuries for a forest to reach it’s full beauty. The church of Jesus Christ does not consist of individual persons each building their own forest. It consists of a group of people working together to build one massive forest by each individually cultivating a few trees.

It takes a lot of time. You aren’t going to build a fully learned disciple over night. In fact, they won’t be fully developed until Jesus returns. (Phil 1:6) It is going to take a lot of time, a lot of energy, and a lot of meeting with that person to grow them as a disciple. This year is my seventh year being a Christian and I have grown exponentially since I chose to follow Jesus, but I still have more imperfections than I could list in this blog post. I still have to be cultivated and nurtured by other Christians to grow more.

So Young and Restless movement, I love your vision. Your passion to see things done for the Kingdom of God is great. But start putting words to your actions. Stop thinking extremely big picture and get down to your actual context. You are not going to obliterate modern day slavery or bring the entire nation of India to Christ in a single day. But you could make disciples of a few people in your life. These people will in turn make disciples who will make disciples who will make disciples and it will all spread.

Disciple making happens in small amounts. Jesus made 11 in his whole ministry, who each made disciples until the whole world was reached. So stop trying to change the world and start building the church.

Jesus doesn’t call us to be restless, but to be faithful. Truly being radical in your faith doesn’t mean you have to go across the world, though you can do that if you want. It means that you are fully surrendered to Jesus. Your heart is completely his. Whatever he says to do, you will do.

Let us lay down our restlessness at the feet of Jesus. He is standing in front of us saying, ““Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Faithful, Fruitless Evangelism

Have you noticed how, in the church, we sometimes praise ministry only when it is fruitful?

So, the Billy Graham crusade that brings 5000 people to make a decision is viewed as awesome, but the faithful laborer who is sharing the Gospel everyday in the streets, but never sees people respond is completely overlooked. If the person is teaching everything correctly, the faithful laborer who sees no fruit should be as praiseworthy as those who lead 100 people to Christ a year.

The Scriptures are filled with examples of people who were radically faithful to God, yet saw little to no fruit from it. But no one wants the ministry of Moses. He has to deal with a group of complaining people for 40 years and when they finally arrive outside the promised land, God tells Moses, “They are going in, but I’m killing you on the mountain.”

No one wants the ministry of Isaiah, who is told to go preach the Word to a people who will never listen. No one wants the ministry of Jeremiah, who warns Israel for years that Jerusalem is going to get destroyed and guess what, it got destroyed.

Everyone wants Jonah’s ministry. He preached an 8 word sermon and the entire people group repented. Everyone wants Peter’s ministry who preached at Pentecost and saw 3,000 come to faith in Jesus.

But let us not be quiet about ministers out there who are faithfully laboring and not seeing any results. Praise God they are being faithful. Good job.

Rather, let them be an example to those who aren’t sharing the Gospel. It’s not about the results of your ministry. It’s about whether or not you are being faithful. The majority of Christians don’t ever share their faith, which is frightening. We are supposed to be a people marked by love (John 13:35).  Yet, if you believe that God is going to pour out his wrath on those who don’t believe the Gospel and that Jesus is the only way to be saved from God’s wrath, how much do you have to hate somebody to not talk about that message?

Let us be faithful messengers of the Gospel wherever we go. The command Jesus left all Christians before he ascended was to go make disciples. Whether or not you are doing that will show whether or not you take him seriously.