That’s our job. Jesus handed it to us when he ascended to heaven. It’s the mission God entrusted to us, the church, while we await his return. One day I will have to answer for how well or how poorly I sought out and made disciples of Jesus Christ.
Several months ago I was convinced that it was really hard to make disciples when my denomination couldn’t seem to agree on what a disciple looks like. And it’s true, we seem to be at odds, at least from a global perspective, when it comes to defining sin and marriage and what a life of holiness should look like. Perhaps it’s a sign of my own weakness, but when I spend time gazing at the state of the church from a global point of view I get dizzy. I lose air. I find it very difficult up in the stratosphere to see how any of this can or will work out. This is only one of the many reasons I would make a pitiful God (despite my constant striving to be that) – I can’t shoulder all the mess and brokenness that is the Church.
But God – the one true God – can.
He shouldered it on the cross. He shoulders it today, as Jesus is living and always interceding on behalf of his Bride. Because Jesus is the Savior of the church I don’t have to be it. A few months ago I came to that realization and I have to say, it’s been such a relief! I do not have to save the church. Say that with me:
I do not have to save the church.
God has done it and is doing it and will do it. When I understand this and live into this I come down out of the dizzy-headed stratosphere and I find myself in a local congregation situated in a community where God placed me and has graciously gifted me in certain ways to do the work of seeking the lost and making disciples of Jesus Christ. That’s my job. That’s your job. Wherever you are.
When I am busy having breakfast and lunch appointments with dreamers from my local church, or meeting with addicts on Thursday night who hunger and thirst for freedom, or hold the hand of an elderly woman in a nursing home, or pray with the sick in the hospital, or study for this Sunday’s sermon, or gear up for a community wide Trunk or Treat this weekend, or visit a neighbor and offer them some food I find that my heart is full to bursting and my joy is complete. When I get my head out of the clouds and focus on making disciples – interacting with people who are flesh and blood and right in front of me – I find the cares I had when I tried to save the church melt away.
God’s got that. He’s given me this.
I have this hunch that grows increasingly stronger that if each and every one of us would put our hand to the plow and get to work in our communities where real people are dying and going to hell (sidebar: If a vein just bulged on your forehead and you yelled at the screen, “Yeah, but so many of my colleagues don’t even believe in hell!” then take a deep breath and say this aloud again: I don’t have to save the church) then we would see the Holy Spirit move in ways we cannot begin to imagine. We would see revival break out in our streets if we would just offer Christ to the people around us rather that bicker and complain and grumble about what people we don’t even personally know are doing.
I am preaching to myself as much as to anyone else here, but stop blaming everyone else for the state of the church and look instead in the mirror, repent for the sloth that is so easily dressed up as righteous-indignation-over-the-internet, and get to work. The harvest is plentiful, says our Lord, and he called you and I to bring it in. Just do it.