As Christians, we have a job to do. There are other jobs and actions which God calls us to do in the world, but this one is the biggie. This one goes back to the last words Jesus spoke to His disciples before He left them and ascended back into heaven after His earthly ministry and mission were accomplished.
We call these words “The Great Commission.” They are familiar to many. “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19-20.
Two other verses of Scripture, among many, which also give this clear directive are these. “The Lord is … not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 And, “[God] reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:18
So, as Christians, our mission is simply to pass on to others the same Good News about God’s love that somebody told us.
Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in California recently wrote about this in an email to pastors. I’m going to use some of his basic points to highlight how we Christians can so simply, yet so efficiently, fulfill this job, this task, this mission God has given us to do.
I like to think of “The Great Commission,” often connected to the ministry of “Evangelism,” as simply this: Bringing people to Jesus. This phrase was part of our congregation’s purpose and mission statement when I was a full-time pastor.
Rick Warren thinks of this in the same way because he suggests a particular Bible story, which tells the simple yet profound story of some people bringing someone to Jesus.
This incident is recorded in Luke 5:17-26. It’s the story of the men who literally brought-carried their paraplegic friend to Jesus. When they got to the house where Jesus was, they could not get inside because of the large crowd gathered around Jesus. Not to be deterred, they lowered their friend through a hole in the roof on a stretcher, right in the middle of everyone and in front of Jesus.
Jesus was impressed by their faith and told the paralyzed man to get up and walk, and the man immediately did. The people were amazed.
Let’s take another look at this story and analyze it and interpret it for our own circumstances. How can we, today, just within our everyday lives, bring people to Jesus?
Rick Warren lifts out five principles from this story. I’d like to use this vocabulary: “Bringing people to Jesus. God’s Perfect 5-Point Plan.”
1. Compassion. The men in the Bible event loved their paralyzed friend with the deepest brotherly love and knew they had to bring him to Jesus.
It all begins with this, the love we have for our fellow human beings. This, of course, begins with our family and closest friends, but it goes out beyond any barriers to every single person we encounter. The “Great Commandment” which Jesus gave was simply this, “Love others as I have loved you.”
It is this deep God-like love for those around us that compels us to bring them to Jesus. We love them so much that we so desperately want them to receive the blessings of Jesus’ forgiveness, the new life here and now only He can give, and the eternal life only available through Him.
2. Cooperation. The reality in the Bible story is that not just one of the men could have accomplished the physical task of bringing their friend to Jesus.
And so it is with us. Oh, sometimes we have very specific one-on-one encounters with those we want to bring to Jesus, but Jesus tells us that He has made us a “body” together, each with important parts which contribute to the whole of His work.
God’s Perfect Plan includes that each of us is to determine and recognize our skills and abilities, and then coordinate with other Christians to accomplish the spiritual task of bringing people to Jesus.
We turn to one another and say, “Come on. We can do this together, with God’s help, of course!”
3. Faith. The friends of the paraplegic truly believed Jesus could and would help and heal their friend. They obviously had no doubt. Their faith was tenacious. Jesus discerned their faith and granted their bidding because of their faith.
Of course, we cannot even begin such a mission as bringing people to Jesus unless we ourselves have this deep-abiding and deep-burning faith in Jesus ourselves.
We must have this faith. We want this faith. We also often question whether we have this faith, or enough of it to bring others into it.
This is where God’s Perfect Plan includes the Holy Spirit. Our prayer is, “Come, Holy Spirit. Come into us and give us faith and strong faith. And keep us in this faith. And plant this faith in the heart of these we want to bring to Jesus. Amen” God has and will most assuredly answer this prayer.
4. Action. Well, of course! These friends were most definitely men of faith and of action. This story is full of action. Just picture in your mind the lifting, the muscles straining, the sweat dripping, the steps both walking and running, the diversions and obstacles, even the pushing and shoving these men had to employ to get their mission accomplished to bring this dear one to Jesus.
God’s Perfect Plan includes that we be Christians of both faith and action. Action for us includes daily awareness of our opportunities to invite others into God’s House to hear His Word, and taking advantage of our opportunities to pray with people and share Scripture with them.
Our action includes calling family and friends, sending emails, texting, and any form of communication to invite and encourage the ones we love to come to Jesus for all that He has for them now and for eternity.
And remember, we employ all of this action for those who know little or nothing about Jesus at this point in their lives, and for those who have known Jesus but are not now in a good relationship with Him through faith and the church.
5. Persistence. How much more persistent can you be than to climb onto a roof with a man on a stretcher, maybe even tear open a hole, lower the man to the ground below, and let absolutely nothing keep you from bringing your friend to Jesus?
Finally, God’s Perfect Plan for us to bring people to Jesus includes that we be that persistent. God’s Plan for us is to be that tenacious. God’s Plan for us is to never give up. Never. Never give up. God has never given up on us, and by His power we shall never give up on bringing people to Jesus. It is what we shall do and strive to do until we draw our last breath here on earth and join the saints for eternity in heaven.
And by God’s grace and power, so we shall!
Bringing people to Jesus. God’s Perfect 5-Point Plan. Yes it is. Let’s get to work! Amen!
[Kollmeyer, a Fayette County resident for 36 years, is Pastor Emeritus at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Fayetteville. Follow Pastor Scott Ness and this great church at www.princeofpeacefayette.org. Kollmeyer until recently was Interim Pastor at Word of God Lutheran Church in Sharpsburg. Find some of his video recorded sermons at www.woglutheran.org and follow Pastor Jason Dampier and this great church on this site.]