Compelled

13 08 2013

compelled

 

The author of Hebrews tells us that when running a race, we should, “…lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us.” (Hebrews 12:1) Most people lump both of these items that we are supposed to lay aside in the sin category, but I do not see it this way.  I believe we are talking about two very distinct things that we are to lay aside. One is easy to understand, and that is sin. We know that we cannot run the race with our legs tied together with sin. I believe that most people get this. Where we run into trouble is when we start talking about every weight that we should lay aside. These weights are not sin. I believe these weights may even be good things, but we are told to cast them aside. What is the author talking about here? Because of our lack of understanding on this subject, I believe Satan has used this to deceive us into doing a lot of good things, but not doing the main thing.

Americans, and especially the younger generations, love service, ministry, philanthropy, social justice, etc. There is no lack of ways that you can volunteer your time and donate your money. What I am afraid of is that many Christians are giving their lives to good ministry, but that ministry is not the race that God has called us to run. The best way for me to explain this is to give you an example. A hot topic right now, and rightly so, is the issue of slavery. It is hard for us to believe that slavery still exists in our world, but it is thriving, the most despicable slavery being those young children, both boys and girls, being kidnapped and sold as sex slaves all over the world. Because of the atrocities committed and publicized, the public, and especially Christians, are taking up the mantle to fight for the freedom of these oppressed images of God. Even non-believers are fighting this fight. There is a huge movement to end slavery. As Christians, though, we need to go a step further. We need to understand that a person freed from slavery will still eventually die and face an eternity without God unless they accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior on this side of life. Therefore we are compelled to share the gospel with these people who are freed. The non-believer can feel satisfied when the person has been freed from slavery. The Christians can not simply stop there. The Great Commandment (Matthew 22:36-40) compels us to share the gospel. You may even say that you understand that, and I think most Christians do whether they act upon it or not. But we, also, cannot stop there.

If the Great Commandment compels us to share the gospel, then the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) compels us to plant churches. Matthew 28:19-20 tells us to go and make disciples of all nations. Notice that it says “disciples” not “converts.” This is crucial for us to understand. The race that God has lined out for us is not just to tell people about Jesus, but to go further than that and disciple those who convert. When we look at the whole of the New Testament, we clearly see that God’s plan for making disciples is to plant these new converts into new churches and teach them the commandments of Jesus. Therefore, the ideal situation would be for a person freed from slavery to become a follower of Jesus and become apart of a church made up of other people who have been freed from slavery, so that they can be discipled in order to repeat the whole process. This is not my plan. This is God’s plan.

The weight that we need to lay aside are these good works, like ending slavery. That certainly doesn’t mean that we stop working toward that end, but that we go further with it because we are compelled to do so by the Word of God. The end goal is not to free people from slavery, but to plant reproducing churches that transform this earth through their kingdom-building work. This goal takes more work, more strategy, more thinking, more prayer, and more guts to accomplish, but it is the race that God has called us to run.

My prayer is that you don’t get caught up in all of these “good” weights, but that you would lay them aside in order to plant churches for the glory of God.





Run the Race

2 06 2012

One of our purposes in going to Colombia next week is to lead some of our missionaries in a Prayer Retreat. I will be in charge of leading the worship and leading the Bible study with the adults. Whenever I have the opportunity to share with missionaries serving on the field, I am always faced with the dilemma of what I should speak about. I have been praying about this retreat for quite some time now, and I think that I have come up with a topic that will speak to their hearts. I am going to be speaking about how we should be running the Race that God has set before us. In Hebrews 12:1-2, the author reveals that we should run the Race with fellowship, with freedom, with endurance, with purpose, and with joy.

When the author of Hebrews says that we are “surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses,” I have always wondered what exactly that has meant. I believe that the author was referring back to chapter 11 where he described those that have persevered and eventually died for the cause of Christ. Is this allusion to them meant to say that in light of what they have done, we should run the Race, or is it meant to say that they are actively watching us even now? Have those that have preceded us in death the ability to see us and intercede for us? The picture that the author gives us is one of a huge stadium filled with fans cheering on those that are running on the track below. For me this is a great encouragement to know that I am being cheered on and maybe even prayed for by those who have already fallen asleep in Christ. On the other hand, it makes me wonder what those who are watching are thinking when I am stumbling along or not even running. It gives me accountability to keep up the fight – to keep pushing even when I don’t feel like running.

Please be in prayer for me as I share with these wonderful people the power of God’s word. Pray that they will be encouraged and pressed to continue on with the difficult Race that God has set before them.








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