Have you ever set a goal, say, to do something valuable in the coming week, only to have the week go by and realize you didn’t get around to it? I know I have. It happens more than it should in my life. Are they bad goals? Am I a bad person? Does life just happen and crowd out the things that don’t present themselves to us? After more than two decades in youth ministry, I started calling this the “youth camp syndrome.” Well-intended students who have had a mountain-top experience make a 100% genuine commitment to Christ about some area(s) of their lives. But they leave the mountain-top and life happens. School happens. Sports happen. Parents happen. Work happens. And it has to do with intentionality, or intentionally making the changes that need to happen.
A GREAT example of this just occurred this weekend. We were attending our home church, The Heights Fellowship in Lubbock, TX., and the pastor, Mike Martindale, preached a phenomenal message on the need to take the Gospel to those who, without intervention, face God’s eternal wrath. He wrapped up the message by asking everyone to think of three people they know who need the Gospel and go share with those people this week. He asked those who had people in mind to raise their hands, and about 1/3 of those in attendance raised their hands. Those people left that morning with a plan, having committed to sharing Jesus with three people they know who need Jesus and His salvation. I am pumped at the prospect of there being 300 people who will hear about Jesus this week from His Bride.
But something more has to happen than those people raising their hands. They will need to be intentional in their conversations, in their prayer life, and in their daily patterns/habits if this is going to happen. It reminds me of a chunk of Scripture from Luke’s Gospel. In chapters 8, 9, and 10 of Luke’s Gospel, we see Jesus doing something that, at least to me, points to our need for intentionality.
Luke 8 opens with Jesus going from town to town proclaiming the good news and the kingdom of God. As he’s going, he’s teaching and performing miracles. Luke makes sure we know that the 12, as well as the ladies, were with Him. Luke 9 opens with Jesus sending out the 12 to do exactly what Jesus Himself had modeled for them in Luke 8, charging them with proclaiming the good news and the kingdom. And they are to perform miracles, too. Then, in Luke 10, Jesus adds to the 12 and sends them out again to do what He himself had done, sending 70 (or 72 depending on your translation). This is a great example of what discipleship should be: the disciple models a behavior for those he/she is discipling. The discipler then helps the disciples with the behavior, watching how they do. THEN the discipler watches the disciples do the same thing with their disciples. This is a model we call MAWLing (Model, Assist, Watch, Leave).
However, pertinent to this post is the fact that we do not see the disciples doing this normally. In fact, we see instance after instance where they seemingly stumble along behind Jesus clueless to what they should be doing. In Chapters 9 and 10, they are commissioned by Jesus and given specific instructions with the expectation to go and do. We don’t know how long they went about, but it was longer than a day because Jesus tells them to take nothing they need for the journey. If it was just an evangelistic afternoon, there’s no instruct them on food, extra sandals, etc. Jesus gave them a sense of intentionality to their journey. He even told them how to introduce the Gospel, giving them an exact phrase to get them into the spiritual conversations. Luke 9:6 and 10:17 show that they went and did just as Jesus had commanded. In fact, these chapters have a report time where they came back together to give a report of how the work had gone. When they set their feet on the floor each morning during this time, they had a purpose that they were committed to: proclaiming the kingdom of God is near.
I like to think that, had I been there, I would have been obedient and intentional with the mission. But what the pattern of my life seems to indicate is that I, more often than not, question or drag my feet. I resist the impulses of the Spirit to open my mouth. I worry about how the message will be received; how I will be perceived. And life comes crashing back in, the week goes by, and nothing has changed. IF we are going to reach those around us, something has to change DAILY in our lives. We MUST live with an intentionality that drives us, setting our feet on the floor each morning and proclaiming in word and deed that, today, we will follow the Spirit’s leading. We will open our mouths and proclaim the message we’ve been commissioned to proclaim. We will stop worrying about perception or reception. We will set aside our agenda and take up the agenda of our master: the bold proclamation that the Kingdom of God is near. SO, here’s my challenge to you: share the Gospel with someone today and comment back here with the results. Let’s be bold and accountable as we intentionally go about the master’s business. Let’s covenant to pray for one another to be intentional each morning with our first thoughts of the day. Let’s purpose to not allow one more day to pass before we obey the great commission. After all, we all know that the more we say, “no,” the easier it becomes to say, “no,” until we eventually just ignore the call.
And, the next few blogs will be aimed at helping you know what to say, how to say it, and how to rescue those who stand before God’s wrath. Next week: how do I know who to share with.