There was a missionary in China whose talents and abilities were so outstanding that one of the American companies tried to hire him. They offered him an attractive job with a salary to match, but he turned it down. He told them God had sent him to China as a missionary.
He thought that would end the matter, but instead they came back with a better offer and an increase in salary. He turned that down, too, but again they came back, doubling the financial package.
Finally he said to them, "It's not your salary that's too little. It's the job that's too small!"
Going into all the world to make disciples is a BIG job! That's why it's so odd to see so many church leaders make such little offers—such small challenges—to their congregations. Some challenge their flocks with baby steps for fear they will leave if confronted with a BIG, God-sized challenge.
Challenges like Jesus made ...
"Go and sin no more." (John 8:11b)
"Jesus told him, 'If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.' " (Matthew 19:21)
"But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!" (Matthew 5:20)
"You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your hand—even your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell." (Matthew 5:27-30)
"Then he said to the crowd, 'If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.' " (Luke 9:23)
"But Jesus told him, 'Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.' " (Luke 9:60)
Jesus didn't call people to baby steps, He confronted them with challenges so big that to respond would mean turning their lives upside down!
Many walked away.
That never stopped Jesus from making BIG challenges!
It often stops today's leaders. We fret about asking someone to hand out bulletins, greet visitors or help serve communion. And we don't even consider asking someone to go share the Gospel with an unbeliever for fear of completely freaking out the "Christian" with such a request. Yet, for someone to repent of their sin and follow Jesus Christ requires the greatest challenge of all—we have to be challenged to die to self and live for Christ.
How are you challenging the people you lead? With the challenges of Christ? Or pleas for the occasional baby step?
Related Preaching Articles
By Sam Allberry on May 29, 2017
Too many of us view the resurrection of Jesus as little more than a nice, happy conclusion to the gospel story. But the Easter story isn’t just “what happens next” to Jesus after his death. It doesn’t just wrap up the story; it fulfills it. In fact, there really is no story without it.
By David Mathis on Dec 16, 2016
Don’t begrudge God the glory of your long, arduous maturation process. In it you are tasting the growing pains that Jesus knows very well. And he stands ready to help you persevere until God’s process is complete.
By Dave Furman on Sep 14, 2016
God delivered me from the darkness of despair through my friends and family as they shared their hope with me. I’m not talking about a shove-it-in-your-face kind of “sharing.” They didn’t try to explain all my problems away or attempt to explain all of God’s intentions for my suffering.
By Joe Hoagland on Sep 7, 2016
The church can learn a lot from worldly business and marketing trends but many times churches and church leaders end up promoting the wrong thing.
By Michael Kelley on Jul 26, 2016
We are probably more responsive today than ever before, partly because we now have the tools to respond publicly to anyone or anything, and at any time we see fit. We can post, like, tweet, and retweet, and we are delighted to do so. We love to respond. No, we need to respond.