There’s a kind of resurrection that occurs. We walk in darkness. It’s our natural state. We are born into it. At first we are unaware. Slowly it becomes more and more apparent. Seeing, we don’t see. Hearing, we don’t hear. Nor do we understand. Then something happens. A light shines through our darkness. This light reveals our darkness. We must choose. This light is the good news announcement. God did for us what we could not do for ourselves. In that moment we recognize that we are more wicked than we ever imagined, but God is more merciful than we could ever deserve.
In that moment we stand on the threshold of the Kingdom of heaven. We ponder our dilemma. We repent...in that moment we have a change of mind. In that moment we see things differently. In that moment our hearts are changed…we are given a new heart.
We have entered the narrow path. We have been redeemed. Purchased with a price. Like a merchant seeking the finest of all treasures and finding it, God sells all to purchase us. The purchase price is the life of Jesus, through the shedding of His blood.
We are overwhelmed. Our tears are met with a humble prayer. “Oh Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.” In that moment He already has. There is now no condemnation. Nothing can separate me from God’s love. I am more than a conqueror. We all are!
Now I walk in the light. I no longer have to earn God’s approval. Like I could in the first place. I now have God’s approval. God’s approval is the essence of my new heart. It’s why I now walk in the light.
It hit me like a ton of bricks. I was driving down the road. I had robbed my kids of the wonder, beauty and mystery of the gospel. I had not only allowed religion to rob me, but it had robbed them.
My motive was right. I didn’t want to expose them to my checkered passed. I wanted to protect them. I didn’t want them doing the things I did. I thought the best way to keep them safe was to keep silent and live a good Christian life in front of them.
I was wrong.
At the time of this revelation my son was deployed to Afghanistan. He would have to wait. My daughter was twenty years old and home from college. I would start with her.
It was a fall afternoon. I sat in my favorite leather chair. She sat across from me. I started with, “I owe you an apology.” She replied, “For what?” I pressed on, “I haven’t been honest with you. I need to tell you about my past.”
I had her attention.
I spilled my guts.
I told her about my rebellious years. I appropriately told her about the years of drugs, sex, and rock-n-roll. I came of age in the seventies. It was a wild ride. I was saved out of sin, not from sin.
She took it all in. After a long silence she spoke up. “Dave (my son) and I talked about how we could never live up to you and your standards. To be honest Dad, we’ve sort of given up.”
In my attempt to protect my kids I had put them at the greatest kind of risk. Unknowingly I had hidden the very light I so wanted them to see and embrace. Without even knowing it I had displayed a kind of self-righteousness. A self-righteousness that they had decided they couldn’t achieve. I was good at it.
As I told her my whole story it put the gospel in context for the both of us. I was an ordinary man. God did for me what I could not do for myself. It also did something else. It let me off the hook. I no longer had to live up to a self-imposed standard. I was free to be myself and to become fully who God wanted me to be; and for me more important so was my daughter.
The good news is we can come out. We no longer have to hide behind religion.. We no longer have to make excuses for our sins or seek to cover them up. Our sins have been dealt with. We are okay. No, we are better then okay. We are complete!
God did for us what we could not do for ourselves. He has redeemed us, He is renewing us, and ultimately He will restore all things. He is rewriting our story. It is a story to be shared.
Religion is that thief. The gospel is that life. And the having it to the full is our life in the gospel. The truth is we can never live up, but nor do we have to. The gospel is all we need.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10, NIV).
Application: Don’t hide behind religion…share your gospel story!
Let’s face it discipleship language isn’t sexy. If we are completely honest it’s somewhat generic. Now before you pounce on me I’m a discipleship guy.
Yet when I work with churches I’m discovering that there is often a gap between their rhetoric and reality. I was recently with a group of senior leaders who are in the process of building a discipleship culture. In spite of their commitment something is missing. They are quick to recognize it. They say, “We are committed to making disciples that makes disciples, but our leaders don’t think we have a vision.”
It’s understood that language creates culture. In this case their lack of language is creating tension. It appears to be even slowing down and stalling out their intent to develop a robust discipleship culture.
Could the answers be as simple as creating or crafting a new, clear, or/and compelling language. Probably not! The issues seemed to be much more complex. Yet crafting a discipleship language may be the first steps.
When Jesus invited his first disciples to follow him he used a metaphor that screamed from their context. “Come follow me and I will make you to become fishers of men”.
In Innovating Discipleship by friend and Ministry Partner Will Mancini talks about three types of results. They are:
· Input Results – the number of people and dollars that come “into” the church.
· Output Results – the actual life-change outcomes that God intends for followers of Christ individually
· Impact Results – captures the broader effect of the church in the surrounding city or community.
Notice the language Jesus used in his calling of his first disciples. It is filled with output and impact results. “I will make you to become (output) fishers of men (impact).”
Connect your discipleship language with output and impact results and see what happens. For Jesus it might look something like this if he had couched it in mission language, “Transforming everyday fishermen into extraordinary fishers of men”. Regardless they left all to follow him.
Need help with your vision language. Hit me up me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Will Mancini, Innovating Discipleship (Church Unique International Leaders Series; 2013), Location 213-225.
David Putman is founder of PTG and a Lead Navigator for Auxano.