Living with Evangelistic Urgency
December 1, 2015
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
<![CDATA[God Centered Life Ministries is pleased to welcome Steven Lee, pastor of small groups and community outreach at College Church in Wheaton, IL. The man was unassuming. If I hadn’t been told, I would not have known he was a trained military expert for the Indonesian National Armed Forces. He began to tell me of how he came to faith from a Muslim background. Not just any Muslim background, but he was a teacher of Islamic law and practice. Hundreds of students learned from and listened to this man. But God’s ways are mysterious, and at 40 years old he came to know the Good News and confess allegiance to Christ. Next came very real persecution at the hands of angry former students. Not mean glares and disdainful looks, but physical attacks such as being stabbed and poisoned. The poisoning—with rat killer strategically placed in a sweet tea—permanently damaged his kidney and liver, and doctors gave him a prognosis of one year to live. This man stood before me giving praise to God for sustaining him a year and a half. He had been given more time than was expected and wasn’t going to waste it. Today this man shares the gospel with what I imagine to be Paul-like boldness. He’s living on borrowed time. There is an urgency and uncanny boldness—in a Muslim country no less—to his evangelism. The prospect of life without Christ—his former life—and his near death experience with the hope of Christ clarified for him what is most important. Do We Live With Urgency? For most North American Christians we rarely get such a clear wake up call. Too often we’re planning for the next big thing we’re going to do: college, wedding, graduate school, new job, travel, career change or even retirement. Too often our lives consist of our plans for the future, rather than an urgent desire to make Christ known to the lost and dying. How often do we have a sense of urgency to share the good news of Jesus—the only hope for sinners—with our neighbors, coworkers, classmates and acquaintances? If we truly believe that Christ is everything, then shouldn’t our lives reflect this more? Some may wonder whether this type of urgency is healthy or helpful at all. Seems rather extreme in some ways. Yes, people are perishing every day without Christ, but Jesus knew this too, right? Hundreds or even thousands of people died daily during Jesus’ earthly ministry. There were lepers, blind, lame and disfigured people that never got Jesus’ healing touch during his time on earth. Jesus would often go off to pray rather than hobnob with the crowds. The fact that hundreds and even thousands may perish this month without Jesus is a humbling truth, yet the reality is difficult to grasp. How We Ought to Live How do we reconcile this tension between living a life of God-honoring urgency and living to make plans for tomorrow, next week or ten years from now? It is a difficult and real tension. Yet here are three verses from Scripture that don’t necessarily reconcile the tension, but clarify how we ought to live.
- Live to glorify God in everything.
First Corinthians 10:31 says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Every moment and every day is an opportunity to glorify God. Whether you share the gospel with a lost friend (which you should) or you go to work—it is an opportunity to honor and glorify God in our attitude and disposition. Some days are Spirit-prodded days where we ought to evangelize boldly, and other days are Spirit-enabled days for us to do whatever is before us with the aim of honoring God in everything we do.
- Live to show your trust in your heavenly Father.
Matthew 6:26 says, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Jesus tells us that we are loved by him and of much more value than a bird. The birds eat and rest, and so will you, so live in constant trust of God. Christians do not live merely to plan for our future comfort or provision, but rather trust Christ for daily bread. So we do not live in order to become self-sufficient or to insulate ourselves from suffering or hardship, but we live to show that we live by faith in the Son of God (Gal. 2:20).
- Live to show that life is about making Christ known.
Philippians 1:21 says, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” To live a life here on earth—for those who would call themselves Christians—is mainly about Jesus Christ. Christians exist to make Jesus known to those who don’t know him. The Apostle Paul makes clear that to die is gain for we will be with him. Thus, our time and energy should not be to live in order to obtain our greatest earthly gain, but rather to live to make Christ known. We don’t live to avoid death, but rather live to magnify Christ. Romans 14:8 makes this explicit, “For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” The point is this: everything is about making much of Christ.In some ways planning is a part of life. We can’t escape it. We think about next week, next year and perhaps next decade sometimes. Yet, we ought to live every moment of every day to glorify God in our actions, heart, attitude and words. We can live—and even take risks—in order to reveal that our trust is in God and not in our circumstances. This may mean doing things that are risky in order to tell others about Jesus. And we live to show that our lives are all about Christ, rather than live the most comfortable life we can possibly manufacture for ourselves. We should be ready as Jesus instructs in Luke 12:35, “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks.” Famous preacher Jonathan Edwards captured this well in his seventh resolution, “Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.” So we should not be like a chicken with his head cut off—running about trying to do things for God—but a confident and urgent desire to make Jesus known. In the mundane and busyness of everyday life, we have the privilege and opportunity to magnify Christ and make him known. This is not urgency for urgency’s sake, but a God centered urgency for Christ’s glory—and this is in fact the best possible use of our life. Steven Lee (@5tevenLee) is the pastor of small groups and community outreach at College Church in Wheaton, IL, where he lives with his wife Stephanie and their four children. He contributes articles to DesiringGod.org and TheGospelCoalition.org.]]>
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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