Are You a World Changer?

“You can change the world.” We’ve all heard this statement. Most of us believe it, and the rest of us wish it were true. Regardless, the Church’s focus on being “World Changers” has been our greatest pursuit and, quite possibly, our greatest failure in establishing a legacy of faithfulness. Instead of changing anything, we just carry the weight of the world on our shoulders.

I truly want to be obedient to “The Great Commission” – to make disciples of all nations. I’ve heard countless sermons on Matthew 28:19-20, but almost all of them have failed in terms of biblical application to our everyday lives in the home, workplace and community. We use this text as a springboard for whatever method, ministry or passion we have for changing the world. It’s almost as if we’ve chosen our own goal and used Jesus’ words to bring Him along with us. Talk about the cart before the horse.

We’ve been called to be followers of Christ. We don’t lead Jesus; He leads us. If you agree with me, then our desire should be to follow Jesus’ plan for changing the world. In order to have a biblical application for Matthew 28, we should learn from the way Jesus applied it instead of jumping on every missional bandwagon that flashes on our screens or is proclaimed from our pulpits.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been on several mission trips and have even lived overseas. I am fascinated by other cultures and deeply burdened to see them influenced by the gospel of Christ. Yet, you might be surprised to know that Jesus wasn’t a mission trip junkie. He only visited one other country, and the visit was a God-ordained survival move to Egypt not a world-changing ministry. Now, I’m not claiming that we should never travel or serve in other cultures simply because Jesus didn’t. Rather, I’m trying to draw attention to the focus of Jesus’ ministry and method. Jesus ministered in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria. He lived missionally where He was. In today’s church, we have focused so much on “to the end of the earth” that we’ve completely neglected the places we live (Acts 1:8).

God has placed me in a few small- to medium-sized churches. I’ve had the ability to speak to and attempt to minister to large groups of people. In my church leadership training, I was burdened with the idea of trying to influence so many people in these formal, detached settings. So, I considered how Jesus did with these “big church” events. In John 6, we see Jesus feeding the multitude which could have numbered perhaps around 10,000-12,000 people. (That’s the kind of church in which all the youth and worship ministry majors dreamed of serving.) So, how did Jesus maintain the crowd? He talked about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. In Verse 66 we read, “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him,” and Jesus turns to talk to the 12 that remained. Apparently Jesus didn’t read the scrolls on church growth and leadership.

Jesus had a heart for the multitudes (Matt. 14:14), but they didn’t seem to be His focus. Jesus focused on the few. He had 12 consistent followers. Three were especially close. One betrayed Him. At the cross, only John remained. Does this decrease in followers from 12,000 to 1 keep Jesus from changing the world? Absolutely not! Yet Jesus’ focus on the few was the catalyst for making disciples of all nations. Early church father Augustine of Hippo understood this as well. He suggested, “Since you cannot do good to all, pay special regard to those who, by the opportunities of location, time, or circumstance, are brought into closer connection with you,” knowing that God himself is at work in placing these persons near to us (De Doctrina Christiana).

As I consider the current status of the Church, I’m deeply concerned about our drive to be “successful” at The Great Commission. Please understand, I am NOT saying that we are excused from this. I’m asking us to reconsider our understanding of it. What if being great at The Great Commission means we focus on where God has placed us? We are where we are for a reason. Yet, how many of us are so busy planning our next trip overseas that we have not developed a relationship with our next-door neighbor? How many “world changers” are so busy with the “work of the Lord” that they do not make disciples of the children in their own homes?

If we are to follow Jesus’ lead, we need to be involved in the lives of those within our sphere of influence not vying for a “better” sphere. We should gratefully receive the opportunity God has given to us to live the gospel before those who are already in our lives. We must be well thought of by outsiders and known by our neighbors (1 Tim. 3:7). We must disciple in our own households to see the world change for generations to come (Deut. 6:4-9, Psalm 78:5-6). If we do not provide spiritually for our own families, Scripture says we have denied the faith and are worse than infidels (1 Tim. 5:8).

Some say that God has “called them” to a different way of life. Sorry, I’m not buying. God never calls us to live in contradiction to His Word. If we are not obeying the Scriptures, we are not changing the world. We’re gathering loads of people who will turn away at the first realization of what Christ actually says and Who He actually is.

We all are commanded to make disciples of all nations, and in the Spirit we shall. We will begin obeying where we live – by sharing with our neighbors and friends. We will disciple our children and see faith pass from generation to generation. And God may choose to bring another person or culture into our sphere of influence. God may even open the door for us to become part of His mission in another country. But we should be committed to following His lead, not living out our own selfish dreams.

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  1. […] a follower of Jesus, I want to value what God values. God has not called me to be productive; He’s called me to be […]

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