Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Command, Not the Call

My family. Friends. Basketball on Sunday afternoons. Oreos. Watching the Texas Rangers and Dallas Cowboys. Driving fast. Competion. Money. Education. Career. Marriage. Future. Dreams. Goals. Life.

I love/want/enjoy/like/think about/prepare for all of these. I could write a 5,000 word blog about all of these things—with 4,500 words being dedicated to how much I love my friends and family.

But that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about a number: 6,685.

This is the number of unreached people groups in the world who have never heard the gospel according to the IMB.


There are 11,571 people groups in the world and over half of that number (6,685 people groups) have less than 2% of the population reached for Christ.

I was floored when I read this statistic. It is 2011. We live in a world with the IPhone, IPad 2, Skype, and other amazing technological advancements. We live in a world where over 90% of the world knows what Coca-Cola is, but over half the people groups have never heard of Jesus.

What in the world are we who are called Christians doing? A “Christian” is someone who is following Christ. If we were truly following Christ we would be urgently carrying out his last words:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

These are the last words that Jesus said to his church, and they were important. Yet somehow we have missed it too often. Sometimes I miss it. Followers of Christ are supposed to follow him in all that we do as he has commanded us.

David Platt says, “Thousands of people groups have not yet been reached with the gospel, and Jesus has commanded (not merely called but commanded) us to get the gospel to them. So for you and me not to be intentionally engaged in taking the gospel to unreached people groups is disobedience to the command of Christ.”

Do we ever think about it that way? That it is disobedient to not be carrying out the great commission? I think that we explain it away by saying that it is the pastor’s job, or we don’t have time, or that God has not called me to do that, or some other weak argument that is nothing but disobedient to what Christ commands us to do: make disciples of all nations. This is not a call; it is the command of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We need to be intentional about sharing the gospel with people of every nation. Sometimes I know that I can fall into this trap. It is the trap of planning. I am not saying planning is a bad thing, but sometimes I can be so focused on planning that I never get to work. I could spend too many hours trying to figure out what an unreached people group is, which groups are “reached” and “unreached,” or what is God’s plan for my life? This can get in the way of actually doing the work that Christ saved me to do.

George Ladd, a Baptist minister in the 20th century says it this way, "God alone knows the definition of terms. I cannot precisely define who 'all the nations' are. Only God knows exactly the meaning of 'evangelize.' He alone...will know when that objective has been accomplished. But I do not need to know. I know only one thing: Christ has not yet returned; therefore the task is not yet done. When it is done, Christ will come. Our responsibility is not to insist on defining the terms of our task; our responsibility is to complete it. So long as Christ does not return, our work is undone. Let us get busy and complete our mission."

Now what does all this have to do with the people I love dearly, Oreos, and the World Series?

I got to thinking—in light of all of the billions of people who have never heard the gospel, am I willing to give up everything to tell them about Christ? Will I leave it all behind to take the gospel to the furthest corners of the earth? Do I, like Paul, “make it my ambition to preach the gospel,” to people who have never heard? Do I count everything as loss for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord?

Do you?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Life in this World

Life is not easy. Every day brings new trials and tribulations. You have an exam tomorrow that determines if you graduate. Your grandfather has cancer. Your parents blindside you with news that they are getting a divorce. You feel that no one loves you.

Each day new troubles are piling up, and you know what, it is hard! It is not fair. You spend all your time and energy pursing a dream, loving someone, preparing for the future, and in almost an instant—your world falls apart. Your joy is taken from you. The troubles of your day are just too much.

Does anyone care? Does anyone see? Is there any hope? Is this all?

Despair, sadness, hopelessness, dissatisfaction, frustration, burdens, fear, anger—any or all of these emotions overwhelm you.

But there is a voice calling softly. Can you hear it?

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

I have come that you may have life.

I am the way.

Follow me.

I will not leave you or forsake you.
I love you.

There is hope. There is freedom. We can have joy. There is another life after this. There is a Risen Savior. He has conquered death. He is alive today! He loves you!

Jesus has been there before. Remember?

He saw the faith of the four men and the paralytic as the man was lowered through the roof.

He gave the Samaritan woman living water at the well.

He instantly healed the woman who had been stricken with disease for 12 years and spent all that she had in search for the cure.

He saw the grief stricken widow as she was going to bury her son. He had compassion on her and raised her son back to life.

He wept at the tomb of Lazarus. Not because his death was final, but because his heart was broken by the grief of those he loved.

He had mercy on the blind, whose voices could be heard above the roar of the crowd.

What did he do for those people? He looked at them. Had compassion on them. Loved them. He healed them. He said, This is not all. Life is not hopless. Let me let you in on a little secret. You can have joy. I am the messiah.

You may be skeptical while you are reading this. Oh, this sounds so wonderful! It is almost too good to be true. Okay, so yes, Jesus was able to help all of those people, but that was 2000 years ago.

Guess what? He wants to help you today. He wants you to have assurance of eternal life, follow him, trust him, believe in him, love him, and he wants you to know that you are not alone.

How do you think that these people felt when they were going to Jesus? They were laying it all out there for the world to see. What shame they would have felt if Jesus would have rejected them. How embarrassed they would be if Jesus could not help them. Yet, they still went to Jesus. They were asking the impossible—but with God all things are possible.

Read Luke 8:40-56.

Meet Jairus. A prominent man. He is highly thought of and well respected by his peers. A leader of the community. A ruler of the synagogue. This is a man who is top dog. Everyone knows who he is—he is the guy that has it all figured out. He is happily married, has wonderful kids, a 401(k), two brand new cars and a $250,000 home—you know this guy. You probably see him every day or he is you.

Suddenly, disaster strikes. His perfect little world is rocked to the core. His baby girl is sick. His one and only twelve year old girl is going to die if she doesn’t receive help soon. What does he do? He has it all, but now what he loves most in this world is about to be taken away from him. He has tried everything, but no one can help him.
He hears about a man named Jesus who can heal sick. Some say he is crazy while others think he is the messiah. Jairus is faced with a choice: ignore possibly the only hope his daughter has to live or swallow his pride and go to this lowly carpenter and ask him to save his daughter.

What will you do?
Jesus is calling. He is asking you to repent of your sins and make him the Lord of your life. He promises that he will come in and be with you forever. Will you give it all up for him? He is the only one who can save you.
Or maybe you have already made the decision to follow Christ, but life is not easy. It is not as perfect as you want it to be or as you thought it would be. You have been beaten down by the battle of each day. The storms in your life are distracting you for Jesus.
Turn your eyes back to him. Like Peter, you may have looked at all of your problems and are sinking in the sea of desperation and hopelessness. Focus on Him. He will pull you out.
Christ is the hope that is in us. He is alive! In him we have life and joy! Rejoice in the risen Savior! Do not allow the troubles of this life to steal your joy in Christ. Run your race. Seek him first. He will be with you through it all. You can have life in this world in the Redeemer.