Just do your job: Make Disciples #UMC

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.

Make disciples.

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5 thoughts on “Just do your job: Make Disciples #UMC

  1. A few years ago, the wheels came off of my life, including my life at church. After a lifetime of being a good loyal Methodist, I was finally forced to face the unwelcomed truth about the current state of the UMC and of the local church. Of course my initial reaction was a desire to run back into church and tell them exactly how they were off track . Fortunately, at the same time I was finally gaining a true understanding who God is and who I am. A large part of that came from three books by M. Craig Barnes, a Presbyterian pastor. One of the best things he drilled into me was the understanding that there is a Savior and it is most definitely not me; all I have to do is show up with a vision of what God is doing in the world–I don’t even have to want to be there. Best advice I ever received. More recently, JD Walt has been re-iterating that in a different way with the Daily Text on seedbed.com.

    One of the biggest misunderstandings within the church is that we have to do something to save the world; there is a perception that that is what Wesley set out to do. Nothing could be further from the truth. John Wesley set out to discover what a holy life centered in God looked like and that led him to unexpected places.

    My vision for the church: The truth is, all God requires of us is to allow him to change us into the persons he created each of us to be; and that is what will ultimately change the world. Methodism is in existence because Wesley’s passion was for the rank and file individual to live a holy life centered in God each and every day of their life regardless of–or in spite of–their worldly circumstances. The focus of the church, especially a church that claims the name Methodist, has to be about the person in the pew coming into a right relationship with a triune God of holy love who is most definitely way more verb than noun; an unfathomable God of mystery who is determined to love each of us more than we could ever think about loving ourselves; a God who will go to any lengths to repair the breach between us—the breach we create because we are a rebellious lot, a batch of incurable control freaks who think we know more about ourselves than the God who created us..

  2. Chad: Talbot’s post is spot on. I am being incredibly blessed by your work. What a marvelous testimony. You also have extremely articulate and sensitive followers, as evidenced by the comment of betsype. Blessings.

    Jim Lung

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