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the pass it on pledge  E-mail
Nicolene Coertse | 02 December 2014
The Pass it On-Pledge

Grant’s sermon of the 26th of October, “I will make you fishers of men” really stirred me at a deep level. I have heard it being said that Jesus’ Great Commission to his disciples in Matthew 28 has become the Great Omission by the church. Grant also mentioned it in his sermon.

 

I think we have a long history of wrong thinking that has lead to this omission. Church fathers, a century or two after the apostles’ writing, had realised that there is a real risk involved when people accept Jesus into their lives, and accept the call of God on their lives to proclaim the Gospel to others. These young people might just pack up and leave for Asia or Africa, never to return, and so the church fathers and church families started to convince these new believers that it is more important to build their personal relationship with Christ Jesus, than to go out into the world, hence the rise of ascetics – believers who go live in complete isolation to serve God in that way. I strongly believe that these young believers’ passion and drive to share the Gospel was channelled in the wrong direction.

 

Another very strong, convincing argument was put forward by St. Augustine, who said: “Preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words.” So we have developed a very strong mindset that we should live a life that is different from the world, so different, that people would be so intrigued to ask why it is so different, and that we would only have to use words then. This is such a wrong mindset. It is actually just confusing and inhibiting. I suspect the argument was born out of countless situations that arose where sharing the Gospel led to heated arguments, so better to protect oneself by not saying anything about Christ, than to land in a heated argument for which you do not feel equipped.

 

I am continually battling this mindset in myself, and I have encountered it countless times among well-meaning friends and family.

 

Something else that comes to mind is that we have formed these clear boundaries of some are called to be apostles, evangelists, pastors, deacons, elders and some to be missionaries, and so on, that we forget that God is profoundly able to use any of us to fulfil any of his purposes. Also, it is a convenient excuse to have, i.e. “I am not called to be an evangelist nor missionary, so I need not bother about this or that person who does not know Christ.”

 

We also have these clear markers of what types of gifts operate in the church, that some have the gift of prophesying, some the gift of tongues, some the gift of interpretation, some the gift of healing. I have heard it being said that we should move away from these clear distinctions, and that God is able to give anyone of his children a particular gift at a particular time to reach his purposes. From what I have experienced at Central Parks, we are starting to move away from this mindset, and starting to operate on what we believe the Holy Spirit instructs us to do at that moment. I believe we will increase in momentum, as we start to live out our faith in all contexts.

In the sermon referred to above, Grant mentioned that there is another translation of Jesus’ Great Commission in Matthew 28: “As you go about your lives, make disciples of Me.” Why haven’t I heard this translation sooner?? That makes such a difference to how I will approach missions... not far out there, but here and now.

 

David Platt writes, in his book, Radical, that there are about 2 billion people on the planet who have never heard of the need for a Messiah, why? He says the reason for it is that we are not a praying church. Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 10: “Look about you, the fields are ripe for the harvest. Pray therefore, that the Lord of the Harvest send out workers into his fields for the harvest.”

 

2 billion people is an awful lot of people, it is 2 with about 12 naughts behind it. I feel practically overwhelmed by the numbers. So do you probably. What can you and I do about 2 billion people? Well, let us start by praying what Jesus instructed his disciples to pray for. I’m starting right there.

 

David Platt further confirms that there is an alternative translation to Matthew 28: the one that Grant mentioned, that as we go about our lives, we are to make disciples of Christ. Who knows, your testimony right here and now, may touch an individual who has a greater sphere of influence than you have, that God will use to reach some people groups for him. We also probably underestimate the strength of our testimony to lead to a miraculous chain of events to reach a wider audience than we have ever dreamt of.

 

Grant told us to forget about the myth that evangelism is only for the extraverted sales people out there! He made it clear that we should never underestimate the strength of our one-on-one relationships to bring people to Christ. I have experienced another dilemma in this regard: I know I have sooo much to share with those that don’t know Christ, but I often feel that I don’t know where to begin.

 

So the message is clear, we each have the task of making disciples of Christ. As the realisation starts dawning in me that I am also included in that, I came to an embarrassing realisation: That in terms of the full armour of God that Paul instructs us to wear in Ephesians 6, I go about barefoot. Gulp! Really?? Yes, true. I have studied what it means to have the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, I’m very familiar with the Word of God, how the helmet of salvation works and so on... but I have always left off the readiness to testify, “oh, I will, one day, eventually, wear those...”, I thought, “just not yet, not now, some other time, maybe...” And I had this awe for fellow Christians who were always ready to share the gospel with whomever they came across, not participating in the action myself.

I needed a visual picture of what it means to walk about barefoot in a warzone. I haven’t work it out for myself. I never thought of it. So God used a few scenes from a movie, to let me see exactly what I was getting myself into. In the movie, Captain Phillips, a young Somalian gets onto the pirates’ vessel without any shoes. Once they’re on the cargo ship of Captain Phillips, the captain takes notice, and alerts his crew to the fact that one of the pirates is barefoot. His crew members communicate this to each other, and those who were hidden in the engine room of the ship, cleverly smashed a bottle over the threshold of the door. When the young Somalian enters the engine room, he cuts open both his feet severely on the broken glass. He yelps in pain, and is effectively put out of action for the rest of the harrowing experience.

Captain Phillips and his captors then spend two nights in a small enclosed lifeboat on an open sea. By this time, the young Somalian’s feet had become infected, and he became delirious from pain, hunger, thirst and lack of fresh air. I really felt for Captain Phillips at the time of watching the movie – it was only now recently that God used these scenes to bring home to me the perils of entering a warzone without shoes on.

So as I go forth from here, I commit to sharing the Gospel, being fully dressed in the armour of God. In the natural, when I haven’t worn a pair of shoes for a season or two, and then start wearing them again, they hurt and chafe me, and sometimes I get blisters from wearing them initially. When I persist, my feet will adjust to the shoes after a while and the shoes start feeling comfortable. So bear with me while I adjust to the willingness to share the Gospel as shoes on my feet.