Do we have what it takes to deliver the Gospel to the remote places in the world? Do we have the courage to go where we may be killed for talking about Jesus? What about our possessions; are we willing to sell everything we have and give that money to the poor? Would we choose Jesus over our own family and children? All of these are questions that I think most Christ followers would quickly answer in the affirmative: “We are willing; we will go.” If this is true then why aren’t more going? Why have two billion people never heard the name of Jesus or learned of His love for them? Why do so many of us live in affluence while nearly half the world exists on less than $2 per day?
To avoid any resentment and in the interest of full disclosure, let me make a few confessions: I passionately love Jesus Christ and seek to serve Him in authentic ways that shake the world with His love and for His glory. That was the easy one; that is the person I am striving to grow into. The reality though, based on the questions above, is something different. I live in the middle of America, safe, secure, and far away from the remote places of the world. I face no real persecution for boldly stating my beliefs, but outside of the internet, I have never voiced these opinions in a country that would imprison or even kill me for speaking such words. I have far too many possessions. Despite moving towards a minimalist lifestyle, the sheer quantity of items in my house is astounding. Most would consider me to be on the upper end of the economic scale; I earn a very good living. I’m not jets and jaguars rich, but I do okay. I have not sold everything and given it to the poor. While generous with what I’ve been entrusted, I live in a manner that is far above what most in the world will ever know. I struggle with the thoughts of what I would do if someone was threatening my family; I wonder if I would choose to show them grace and mercy or if I would violently react to protect the ones I love.
I confess all this for the purpose of letting you know that I have a long way to go on my journey of living a Christ-like life. I believe I could sell everything and trust that the Lord would provide for my needs. I am confident I would not waver in my faith even if I were staring down the barrel of a gun (or far worse). I can see myself going wherever the Lord leads me, even as I wonder at the logistics of it all. As for acting peacefully when confronted with violence against my family, well, that’s still a work in progress. But for all my confidence that I would react in a way that is honoring to God in all these areas, I still have never acted on any of them. I’m not there yet, and I covet your prayers.
I suspect you are not so different from me. You love the Lord and honestly believe you would do anything for Him and never waver in your beliefs. I also suspect that you’ve never taken action on many of these areas either. Here is the bottom line though; we’ve got to get this done. We’ve got to put our faith into radical action if we truly want to see the world come to Christ and make His Kingdom a reality here on earth. Our safe and lavish lifestyles have become a hindrance to our obedience. Jesus told us to go and the furthest we venture is down the road to our place of work. That’s not going; that’s staying put. We were told to go into all nations proclaiming the name of Christ and that means more than sending a check each month. While we live in luxury, people all around the world are starving and have no clean water to soothe their parched lips. We have been given so much and we have kept it for ourselves.
If you are honest with yourself, my guess is you are confident in your confession but in reality it has become a lip-service faith. I’m with you. Perhaps we will never face death or prison for our beliefs. That’s not a bad thing as long as we are willing to put ourselves in those situations if needed. One way to know for sure we’d be prepared to do so is by following all the other commands of Christ. If we cannot be trusted to serve Him in small ways, how can we honestly claim that we would serve Him in the major trials? As we approach a new year, consider how you might spend some time going to where the lost and hurting desperately need to hear about the love of Jesus. Consider your response to the poor and determine ways you can simplify your life, divest your resources and make a significant impact on their lives. Immerse yourself in Scripture and devote your every action to be used for His glory. Prove yourself faithful in the smallest things so He will entrust you with more. Pray for one another. Join me in making 2011 a year that will be like none before it, a year in which we truly shake the world with the love of Jesus. We’re not there yet, but let’s be on our way.