For the sake of the world

What would you say was the primary objective of being a Christian?  Some might say, “to live a good life, helping others.” Some might give more emphasis to experiencing more of “the Kingdom of Heaven” here on earth.

For me, it can be summed up in the last command of Jesus whilst He was on earth. “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising 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. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”

I am certain that for many of us, these are very familiar words. The problem that I have with them is that I am so very bad at obeying them. For years I have put that down to the belief that there were some that were clearly gifted in evangelising, and they were able to carry the rest of us on some sort of communal fulfilment. In recent years of course, I have realised that that isn’t the case, and the command is for all of us.

More recently, the excuse (for that is what it is), has been that I am far too introverted to be able to talk to people about Jesus, let alone disciple them. Despite the brash exterior, I struggle to make even simple conversation with those that I don’t know well, often overcompensating with humour. Although I appear happy displaying this, there comes a point when I just need to withdraw and spend time in my own company, to recharge the batteries before thrusting myself into life again.

The problem with that approach is that it doesn’t change the command. The truth is that in and of myself I am pretty useless at making disciples. I’m even less competent at ‘going’ to do it. I’d much rather be at home, minding my own business.

So if Jesus commanded it, it must be important. I don’t believe that Jesus asked us to do things that He wouldn’t equip us for, but we need to be prepared to accept the equipping that He offers.

As I was driving home last night, a song came on. It had the words “For the sake of the world, burn like a fire in me, light a flame in my soul, for every eye to see, for the sake of the world, burn like a fire in me.” It got me thinking about fires. Fires consume all the fuel that is available to them. Given the correct environment, fires will leave little evidence of the original object remaining.  As long as nothing is done to extinguish a fire, it will continue to burn.

I know from experience that the only way the world is going to know about Jesus from me, is if I allow Him to light a fire inside me, and for me to do everything in my power to fan the flames. I need to completely surrender to the energy and potential that the fire gives. I need to allow it to consume me, not just a part of me, and I need to ensure that I do nothing to dampen the flames, or try and put the fire out.

I remember hearing the story behind the song “How He loves us” by John Mark McMillan. The song was written about a Youth Pastor, who had said to God that “if it would change the youth of our nation, I would give my life.” God listened to that offer and accepted it. The Youth Pastor was killed in a car crash that night. The song that grew from that event shaped a generation of young people across the world.

If we take the command of Jesus seriously, I wonder if we, I wonder if I, would be prepared to pray that prayer? I believe that allowing ourselves to be consumed by the fire of the Spirit will accomplish the same thing. People who really are on fire are different. They have a habit of setting fire to anything nearby that is even slightly combustible. There are people all over the world who are dry and ready to catch light.

So, if you are an extrovert, go for it. Get out there, meeting people, talking to strangers. Telling them the good news.

If you are an introvert like me though, get full, get burning, and just be you. You may not even have to talk to anyone (at least at first).

Either way, the effects will be the same.