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Go and Make Disciples

06 Sep

Matthew 28:19 “Go 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 I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.”
     We have this incredible exhortation to “Go” and to “Make”. There is a price to pay for being a Christian especially one who is not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We must count the cost of going and making disciples because without doing so, we are not serious about this commission. People of other religions count the cost to follow their gods, refusing to compromise and are being respected and honored for their dedication.
     Minneapolis is looking to approve a 49 million dollar project, a Muslim community center boasting it would be “the first recreation center in the country designed to comply with Muslim religious beliefs”. I cannot imagine our Christian nation building a Christian “community” center designed to comply with Christian religious beliefs. We are not talking about a church, but a center where the community will be encouraged to attend while Muslim people practice their religious beliefs, have their own clinic, Islamic art gallery, coffee shop, separate swimming pools and training centers for male/female, and many other services catering to Muslims. This idea came as a means to respect the growing Islamic population, their religion and culture, and try to reduce the number of Somoli teen-age murders. My issue is not with them as people. My issue is with a Christian nation respecting every other religion except its’ own. When I read such things I wonder what is happening to our great commission of evangelizing our nation.
     As I ponder, pray, and search Scripture I believe Christians in the United States are falling short of proclaiming the greatest news on earth. We do not take pride in Jesus, Who He is, What He has done and provided for us, nor are we committed to obedience. We do not think in terms of eternity. Jesus said in Luke 9:26 “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.”
     I believe we are well aware of our shortcomings and condition of being lukewarm, and as a result, have become tolerant of every other religion, forgetting or at the very least setting aside the truth of Jesus being the only way. We make up for our lack of passion by respecting or honoring those of other faiths. Somehow we rationalize if we love and accept people who practice other religions we are pleasing our Father in heaven. We are impressed with people of other religions who actually do what they say: “worship” their god(s), refusing to compromise, refusing to cater to society in dress, prayer times, or modesty issues. As a nation, we seem to be in awe of people of other faiths who are devoted yet disgusted by Christians who are devoted to their faith.
     Please do not misunderstand me. I do believe as Christians we are to love all people, leaving judgment and vengeance to God, and as our constitution states, there should be freedom of religion, the freedom to worship whatever god you desire without fear of persecution. However, in those beliefs, we are not to compromise the biblical standards God has freely provided, nor allow other religions to raise themselves up to become our standard of life in America or equal to the Christian faith. Yet that is exactly what we see happening.
     Court cases prove large companies were sued for not allowing Muslim people to practice their Islamic faith by taking additional breaks for prayer times. These companies were forced to change policy allowing longer and more frequent breaks for Muslim people. Companies with “uniform” codes are forced to make exceptions for Muslims in order to honor their “religious” views concerning dress. These are just two examples of an every growing trend we see in the United States for religious freedom for people of other faiths.
     In a nation which is to honor the Lord Jesus Christ we take advantage of God’s grace and no longer adhere to biblical standards, going as far as to accuse Christians who are obedient to Jesus Christ as being “religious”. Yet in the same breath, we respect people of other religions who practice the rules of their faith, even changing our expectations to give honor and respect to their religious beliefs.
     I am convinced we do not truly love people when we continuously compromise our belief in Jesus Christ by honoring their faith in a god other than the Triune God. If we truly believe Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, why would we hold back? We must be passionate about sharing the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. We must boldly take ground for Jesus rather than submit our standards to other religions. Let me give you an example.
     As Christian leaders, we were recently invited by another very eager Christian leader to attend a meeting set up by Muslim leaders as an expression of unity and an effort to bring peace to our community. In order to attend, women would need to wear appropriate dress according to Islam protocol, nothing tight fitting, no pants, but instead a floor length skirt or dress and a head covering. I had two thoughts. First, I can certainly respect Muslim women for what they believe, but why as a Christian would I need to practice what they practice? And secondly, the unity God speaks of in the Word is unity of the Spirit of God. There is no unity outside of the Triune God. The peace we speak of is not global peace as many leaders are proposing, but peace which passes understanding, found only in Jesus Christ, our peace. As I spoke out to others, I was told I sounded prideful and unwilling to bend in order to achieve unity and peace. My response to those remarks is what kind of unity and peace are we as Christians to be concerned about?
     There can be no true unity or peace between Christians and those who serve other gods. We are not to hate, pray against, despise, hurt, or discriminate against those who practice other religions. But we are to love and tell the truth about the only true God, our Savior Jesus Christ. If this sounds narrow minded – it is! Jesus proclaims in John 14:6 “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” This is the best and most encouraging news ever! Jesus paved the way for us to meet and spend all eternity with Him. Why would we want to compromise or complicate this miraculous truth in any way? Why would we hesitate sharing this amazing God with those who worship other gods so they too would receive salvation found in Jesus Christ?
     I can think of a few answers to those questions. We are more concerned about being found loving based on earthly standards of tolerance and letting people believe what they want. We want to be popular and open-minded as we approach other religions. We are not “certain” of our own faith in Jesus Christ as the ONLY way. We do not know the Word of God well enough to defend our faith in Jesus Christ alone. We do not want to “force” our religion on others (demonstrating we do not realize it is about relationship, not religion). We do not feel it is our “job” to convince others (though Jesus commands us to “compel” them to come in). We believe if we “befriend” people of other religions, eventually they will open up to the Gospel, thus we hold back our knowledge of Jesus Christ until an “opportune” time which usually never comes.
     We must go forth boldly and confidently, walking in love and truth, sharing this amazing God with all people, refusing to sugarcoat, compromise, or practice requirements of other religions in the hopes we will have opportunity to share the Gospel. Notice I said other religions. 1 Timothy 2:3-5 says “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God, our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man, Jesus Christ.” We must have the same mind (we have the mind of Christ) and share His desire. How will this happen unless someone is willing to share the truth without compromise to people who do not know Jesus as Savior? Some bring Paul’s words against this “theory” saying we are to become all things for all people. However, not once did Paul compromise who he was in Christ or who Christ was in him in order to win people over to Jesus Christ. That would be an oxymoron. Impossible! You cannot win someone over to Jesus Christ by doing things contrary to His will. We are to have no other gods before Him. No other god can hold a candle to the Light of Jesus Christ.
     I am reminded of a pastor about two decades ago who, after we attended his “45 minute seeker sensitive” worship service boasted, “Yeah, we just get them in and out of here as fast as possible in the beginning. Then after we have “caught” them we teach what it is really like to be a Christian, the cost, time, and effort, the surrender of our entire selves to our Lord and Savior.” I remember asking him, “So you just string them along, hook them, and then tell them the truth later?” He said, “Absolutely!”
     In a nutshell that explains everything wrong in the Christian Church. We seem more interested in getting people hooked then we do about getting them fed and discipled. We do everything possible to bait them, giving them hope everything will be great (in this life) once they receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Then, at some point in their spiritual journey, we reveal the truth, there is a cost, we must die to ourselves. There is deception involved in not telling them the truth. Jesus says what man builds a house without considering the cost? Living for Jesus brings joy unspeakable, but we know life can still be tough, and we will have trials and tribulations, yet we will overcome because He has overcome.
     If Christian lifestyles on a whole were consistent with what we preached, this would win people to Christ better than telling them half-truths until we get them hooked. Many Christian churches are teaching a half-baked Gospel so if people do not like what they hear one place, they can go to another. Only in the Christian faith is this so evident. Other faiths are consistent across the board, therefore people conform to the standards put forth by their religion. Because Christianity is a grace faith, we often abuse grace and present the Gospel along with our perceptions and theologies in order to gain members rather than convert people to a saving and living relationship with Jesus Christ.
     Jesus told us what we would experience as we live in relationship with Him and share Him with others. I personally do not see many of these Christians. Matthew 10:22 says “And you will be hated by all for My Name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.” I suppose some could argue this is for “end times” not now. How seriously do we take Jesus’ words when it comes to compromise rather than speaking out the truth? Verses 32-33 state: “Therefore, whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” I suppose it depends on our definition of “deny”. In context in the original language it means out of fear of death or persecution, we deny or reject Jesus as our Master, literally disowning Him, deserting His cause. Biblically we deny Jesus every time we bend our knee to another god, to another idol, to another religion in hopes of winning them over for Jesus in our attempt to be “open-minded”.
     How seriously do we take the peace Jesus came for in verse 34? “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.” Jesus IS peace – He did not come to bring peace, for there can be no peace outside of Him. Jesus goes on to say in verses 35-39 “For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.” He who loves father or mother more than Me Is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”
     Jesus is talking about compromise here. He does not speak contrary to His Word and we know He tells us to honor our father and mother. He is not suggesting we not love and honor our parents, but that we remember who is above, in, and through all things, Himself. (Ephesians 4:6) When we choose to keep peace and compromise with others, even with those in our own household (who He tells us will be our enemies) in the hopes they will come to the knowledge of the truth, He finds us unworthy.
     How serious was Jesus? Or do we honestly think this is only for the very end of times and not for now? If that is the case, how will we know when end times are really here? If we are not walking in truth now, we will not walk in truth at the very end. We will compromise and rationalize then just as we are doing now. It is time to go and make disciples, to be unashamed, to compel people to come in to the house of the Lord, to stop being tolerant, and start loving people of other faiths enough to boldly tell them of Jesus, the only Way, the only Truth, the only Life, knowing the rest is up to Him.
     We have the greatest news on earth! We have Hope! We have Peace! We have Unity! Let us share this news with others rather than living under other standards. We cannot go wrong when we preach Jesus! He alone is the One to be lifted up, honored, and worshipped. Compromise and lack of boldness will leave when we are in a personal love relationship with the Lover of our Souls. We will boast of Him and only Him! Lord Jesus, give us a heart like You!

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1 Comment

Posted by on September 6, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

One response to “Go and Make Disciples

  1. Jeannie

    September 8, 2009 at 4:05 am

    Amen! I really like the part about being “narrow minded.” Yes! That is EXACTLY what we need to be.

     

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