Maturity and Motivation to Evangelize
Let me acknowledge something up front: My motivation to evangelize right now is about 85 points out of a possible 100. That may be good for me, but how is it for you? Are you at 10 or 15 on motivation to tell others about Christ? I appreciate the thoughtfulness of speakers in my past who were at 90 and above who spoke on some occasion. I heard their remarks and resolved that one day before long, I would motivate to a higher level and do something about the Great Commission. I appreciate the patience of those speakers, back in their day. I'll try to do the same.
We are familiar with the wording of Christ's Great Commission: "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature." Mark 16: 15. "Go ye therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you, And Lo, I am with you until the end of the world." Matthew 28: 19, 20. It's amazing that a few have said "Those commandments were made only to the people standing around Jesus at the time. We have no obligation to save the lost today." Be careful what you dismiss. If the commandments weren't for us, maybe the "exceedingly great and precious promises" (II Peter 1: 4) weren't either! Be careful what you excuse yourself from!
There are two main obstacles to the spreading of the Gospel: (1) Lack of spiritual maturity and (2) lack of motivation. Both obstacles are internal, inside each of us. And each of us controls how much of an obstacle those will be.
The Lack of Spiritual Maturity obstacle is one that God's Word will not allow to exist indefinitely. Consider the words of the Hebrew writer in 5: 11-14: "of whom we have much to say, and hard to be explained since you are dull of hearing. For indeed because of the time, you ought to be teachers, you have need that one teach you again what are the first principles of the oracles of God. And you have become in need of milk, and not of solid food. For everyone partaking of milk is unskillful in the Word of Righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, even those who because of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. " So how long should a person be a member of the Lord's church before he or she is spiritually mature enough to lead someone else to Christ? There isn't an exact answer in the Bible. But God knows when it should have happened for each of us, or He wouldn't have written what He did in Hebrews 5: 12. We have to grow. Compare also to the parable of the soils in Matthew 13. The successful ones are the ones who reproduce more Christians. What would Christ's Kingdom look like if on the average, each one of us brought forth only 30 fold? A lot larger than it is now.
Motivation is influenced by what we know. My motivation to walk out to my car and roll up the windows rises when I get the information that it is beginning to rain. When it comes to being motivated to teach others, a reminder about the parable of the talents (Matthew 25: 14-30) is helpful. Baptism is a starting line--it is not a "finished" line! Jesus said in Matthew 7: 21-24 " Not everyone who says to Me, Lord! Lord! shall enter the kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in Heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord! Lord! Did we not prophesy in Your name, and through Your name throw out demons, and through Your name do many wonderful works? And then I will say to them I never knew you! Depart from Me, those working lawlessness! " If even these kind of people could be lost, what may happen to those who never lifted a finger to save others?
Motivation is what we decide it is. People who watch television five hours per day skip worship services because they say they have to sit too long. Do you see an inconsistency there? People who say they feel uncomfortable around crowds go to football stadiums with 50,000 people in them to watch 22 men march a ball back and forth over 100 yards of real estate. People who say they are mortified to speak out in public get on ham radios and broadcast across continents. Our personal boundaries are exactly where each of us sets them. Is God easily fooled?
In maturing as Christians, we take on more and more of the Christlike nature. We become a more caring, loving, nurturing people. We don't want to see others suffer needlessly either while on Earth or in the Judgment. How much of a loving person would I be if from the pulpit I could see a diamondback rattlesnake on the doorstep of the church, but not say even one word of caution to anyone before we were dismissed? How much more so when we can see the day of Judgment approaching. The old songbooks used to have the song "There'sa Great Day Coming, a Great Day coming, there's a Great Day coming by and by! For the saints and the sinners shall be parted right and left, are you ready for that Day to come?" The song is a good description.How could we let that happen to friends and neighbors without warning them? Are we a loving and nurturant people if we do?
The positive effects of evanglism are felt at home, not just abroad or among those who are newly converted. We feel closer to God, and rightly so, when we are fulfilling the greatest purpose for having been put on this Earth: Telling others about Christ. Our experience with work like the Nicaragua ministry is that mission work helps us at home regardless of whether we are part of baptisms abroad. We come home all aglow with happiness and fultillment from having worked for the Lord in a foreign mission field for even just one week That kind of satisfaction is hard to describe with words. People at home can tell the difference in us when we get home, though. We also benefit from the opportunities to confess our faith in Jesus. " Mat 10:32 Then everyone who shall confess Me before men, I will confess him before My Father who is in Heaven. Mat 10:33 But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in Heaven." If we don't baptize a single soul, at least we have confessed Jesus before others.
Presently the Dover church of Christ is doing eight missions: Truth for Today, Search, Southern Christian Home, ATU Church of Christ Student Center, Camp Caudle, World Bible School, Prison Ministry, Nicaragua. We are on the cusp of adding another at the North Central Unit of the Arkansas Department of Corrections at Calico Rock, Arkansas. Some of these missions mainly need our contributions and prayers: Truth for Today, the Search television program with Phil Sanders, or perhaps Southern Christian Children's Home. The rest have room for direct personal interactions.
If meeting people face to face is bothersome for you, you might look at registering as a Bible Study Helper with the World Bible School. If you surf on the Internet and read your Bible often, you can do this job. This is a way to teach someone either in the U. S. or internationally about Christ. A disadvantage of that mission is that response rates are rather low, around 1 out of 100. The Prison Ministry is exactly the opposite. Eye contact is high but so are response rates. Over nearly 20 years, in Pope County we have baptized nearly 1100 inmates (both males and females) and restored over 1400. Having a lesson for inmates requires some prep time and some tolerance for being locked up for a couple of hours. Camp Caudle is both a contributory and participative mission. You can go to the camp and participate in the youth activities, or you can do construction/maintenance word and contribute money. A typical summer sees 60 or more conversions among Arkansas River Valley youth. Supporting the ATU Church of Christ Student Center involves working with others to prepare one Wednesday meal each quarter and being present during the meal. Nicaragua is a traveling mission. You can configure the week of being in Jinotega to your own strengths and weaknesses. If you like construction work and are in good physical health, go build buildings. Or visit their schools via the Mobile Library and Bible Adventure work, work with Casa Materna tio help native expectant mothers, help with the medical or vision or dental clinics. Of more recent need is the need of Nicaraguan men to have visits with U. S. elders and deacons to get a look at what those roles are like. Making and sending Smile Boxes is a benevolent/missionary effort and one never needs to leave Dover to do that.
Churches of all denominations are noticing some practices that do not work. One is saying "We have all the members we need. We have converted our immediate families and close friends. Let's keep our church as it is and let the preacher do all the evangelizing." That's a way to have the church house doors closed within a generation. That doesn't work. And we've seen it go the wrong way inside the borders of our home state of Arkansas. We always need to be pushing for new members.
We hope that by visiting this website, you have been blessed.
We hope that by visiting this website, you have been blessed.
Sid Womack, webmaster