One of the realities of being a follower of Christ is the call to make followers. This is called discipleship. That word seems to be a little more palatable than the "e" word we generally use and hear...evangelism. I feel rather sure that we do not like the "e" word because we fear we will have to say something if we engage in this task. It is true that we may have to open our mouths at some point. But surely it can't be all bad, can it? It's important that we remember our calling. It's important that we remember who we are as children of God. It's important that we remember who we are as followers of Jesus. There is a story that is told concerning Jesus's return to the Father following his time on earth. This story is both challenging and convicting. Joe Aldrich, in Lifestyle Evangelism, tells the story this way.
"The angel Gabriel approached him [Jesus] and said, 'Master, you must have suffered terribly for men down there.' 'I did,' he said. 'And,' continued Gabriel, 'do they know all about how you loved them and what you did for them?' 'Oh, no,' said Jesus, 'not yet. Right now only a handful of people in Palestine know.' Gabriel was perplexed. 'Then what have you done to let everyone know about your love for them?' Jesus said, 'I’ve asked Peter, James, John, and a few more friends to tell other people about me. Those who are told will in turn tell still other people, and my story will be spread to the farthest reaches of the globe. Ultimately, all of mankind will have heard about my life and what I have done.' Gabriel frowned and looked rather skeptical. He knew well what poor stuff men were made of. 'Yes,' he said, 'but what if Peter and James and John grow weary? What if the people who come after them forget? Haven’t you made any other plans?' Jesus answered, 'I have no other plans. I’m counting on them.'"
This story, this legend causes us to contemplate the reality of our calling. It challenges us to reflect on our lives as followers of Jesus. It convicts us because all too often we fail to open our mouths when faced with an opportunity to share the good news of Jesus's sacrificial love and salvation.
The truth is, Christ's only plan for spreading the truth about him is for his followers to tell others about him. Jesus commands, "Go...and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit..." (Matthew 28:19). "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel [good news] to the whole creation" (Mark 16:15). "...repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his [Christ's] name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem" (Luke 24:47). These words were first spoken to those who followed Jesus during his earthly ministry. But the command is carried on through time, extending to all followers of Christ.
It's important to remember that we can obey this charge in a number of ways. Certainly through the verbal sharing of what Christ has done for us through his death on the cross, but also through our actions. As we live out our faith before others we demonstrate the love of Christ. As we serve others we demonstrate the love of Christ. As we offer encourage others we demonstrate the love of Christ. As we seek to bring glory to God rather than seeking to glorify ourselves we demonstrate the love of Christ. Ultimately, Christ's plan for spreading the news of his love and sacrifice to others is for his followers to live their lives sacrificially, selflessly, and submissively.
Sacrificially. Giving up my life for God.
Selflessly. Giving up my desires for the sake of others.
Submissively. Giving up my will for the will of God.
That's it. There is no other plan. Christ is counting on us.