Summary: There are many things that keep us from carrying out the commission of God, how can we overcome those things to fulfill the great commission?
3. Spiritual Disciplines Series
April 26th, 2009
You know you are in the middle of no-where in the mid-west when you find yourself 20 minutes or more from the nearest wal-mart. I can proudly say that I have pioneered at least one of these uncivilized areas of Kansas. When I was in college I was preaching at this church in Lafontaine Kansas. It was a little town of about 20 or so people out in the middle of nowhere I am not even sure there was a stop sign in town. The people there actually called their town la-fountain. At this point I had been preaching at this church every week for about two months. After a few weeks there was a little boy who started coming but without his parents. In the middle of one of my sermons, a particularly fine one I might add this little boy raised his hand. I hadn’t done a lot of preaching at this point but in my experience this seemed unusual. Not totally sure what to do, I called on him. He said: “I was at Wal-Mart last night trying to get some boots but they were closed because they had no power.” I wasn’t really sure what to do with that but luckily he continued by asking: “so I was wondering could we pray for independence?” Now directions are not one of my strong suits. So I went with my heart, I said: “aww I’m sorry little boy that no one has told you we won our independence a few hundred years ago.” I smiled thinking that would put his mind at rest. Problem was Lafontaine is near another slightly larger and pretty well known town called Independence Kansas which is what the boy was referring to. So I felt like an idiot because I really didn’t get it. It was such a simple logical connection but because I didn’t understand one little thing I totally missed what this boy was asking for.
It is easy to miss the point if we don’t know what we should. As Christians we can sometimes miss the point on some of the more important aspects of our Christian lives. Just look at evangelism. One of Jesus final commands before ascending to Heaven was the Great Commission. Jesus gives His servants the task of carrying the Gospel to the world. We are called to make Disciples of all nations. But what does that mean? Certainly God does not expect people like us to do this. God uses people like David, people like Paul, like Peter, you know Spiritual people to make a difference in the world. Certainly He wouldn’t try to use someone like me. We know that we called to evangelize the lost. We know that this commission was given to us but really how are we supposed to carry out the mission of God?
So often we may wrestle with this because evangelism can be pretty scary. We may want to pretend that God didn’t give us this command so we don’t have feel guilty for ignoring it. Evangelism has become one of those touchy subjects that many people try to avoid. There are some who are faithful givers, some faithful to the word, faithful to prayer, faithful to serve but I don’t know of many who would honestly say that they are faithful in their evangelistic efforts. One of the primary problems we face is what Donald Whitney refers to in his book ‘Spiritual Disciplines’ as evangelophobia. This fear of evangelism is often caused by our understanding of the seriousness and importance of evangelism. So much rides on getting it right that we stress ourselves out in the moment. We believe that heaven and hell are at stake and we find ourselves feeling overwhelmed and under prepared to deal with such responsibility. One of the primary things that holds us back is fear. We are afraid of failing at such and important task. We ask ourselves how are we supposed to carry out the mission of God? So rather than risk failing we say nothing and we fail silently.
Sometimes inadequacy gets in the way. Many Christians do not obey command to evangelize because they feel they must have a certain amount of knowledge or familiarity with the Word of God or they wait to have a certainty that never comes. What if the Gerasenes demoniac who had the demons cast from him by Jesus had acted that way? The people in his town were terrified of him. He had been running around naked and screaming like a mad man. He is certainly not the ideal candidate to proclaim the gospel. What if he had allowed his inadequacy to stop him? He would not have gone to tell everyone he could what Jesus had done for him. What if the Samaritan woman at the well had thought that way? She would not have brought her whole village to Christ. Now if anyone was going to wrestle with feelings of inadequacy to share the gospel it should be this woman. She was not well thought of in the community. She was trash. People would not want to hear what she had to say for she was thought of as scum in her society. This woman knew that there was something different about Jesus and she wanted to share that with everyone. She didn’t let fear get the best of her. You might think: so what, she is in the bible. She is not like me. God could use her sure but how are we supposed to carry out the mission of God? Sometimes we make evangelism far more difficult than it needs to be.