5 February 2012

A Gospel for Losers?

The gospel ... is not just for the all-star and the illustrious and the legendary. It's for the loser. It's for the defeated, not the dominant. It's for those who realize they're unable to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders—those who've figured out that they're not gods. It's for people who understand the bankruptcy of life without God. It's for people who recognize that while they're definitely deficient, God is more than sufficient.

Jesus came to show us that the gospel explains success in terms of giving, not taking; self-sacrifice, not self-protection; going to the back, not getting to the front. The gospel shows that we win by losing, we triumph through defeat, we achieve power through service, and we become rich by giving ourselves away.

In fact, in gospel-centered living we follow Jesus in laying down our lives for those who hate us and hurt us. We spend our lives serving instead of being served, and seeking last place, not first. Gospel-centered people are those who love giving up their place for others, not guarding their place from others—because their value and worth is found in Christ, not their position.

Do you remember, in Gethsemane, when Jesus told Peter to put away his sword (Matt. 26:52)? He did this to show us that in God's economy, winning this battle involves dying rather than killing.

When we understand that our significance and identity is in Christ, we don't have to win - we're free to lose. The gospel frees us from the pressure to generate our own significance and meaning. In Christ, our identity and significance are secure, which frees us up to give everything we have, because in Christ we have everything we need.

Do the Best You Can

"We each do the best we can. My best may not be as good as your best, but it's my best. The fact is that we know when we are doing our best and when we are not. If we are not doing our best, it leaves us with a gnawing hunger and frustration. But when we do our level best, we experience a peace."
Marjorie Pay Hinckley

3 February 2012

How Do We Make Disciples?

Down through the centuries, Matthew 28:19 has come to be known as The Great Commission. Jesus came to His disciples and spoke these final words to them in person before ascending to heaven:

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, (NET)

Effective Bible study always begins with good observation. Take note of the punctuation at the end of the verse. That's a comma. There's more:

teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20 NET, emphasis added)

In verse 19, Jesus gave us the assignment, but He didn't leave it there. He assured us of His continual presence as we obey His command and, just as importantly, he told us how to do it. How are we to make disciples? By baptizing them and teaching them to obey.

The Greatest Reward

"What greater reward could a parent desire for all [the] years of loving care than to have her children good and noble, wise and intellectual, with a love of truth, virtue, and God in the hearts."
Ellis R. Shipp