This is a post, shared with permission, from our good friend in Colorado who runs Revel ministry. Check out their website for retreat dates and the Distillery, their weekly inspiring posts from which this came.
“Winning souls”, counting salvations, even the word “ministry”, brings a sick feeling to my stomach.
I’ve heard a lot of Christian voices around the country intensifying their “evangelism style messaging” in recent months. I can’t help but think how so much of our western, victory, save-the-world mentality has twisted the way we interpret The Great Commission. So much of it is cloaked in giving and generosity but has an undercurrent of ugly superiority with an agenda that the world (and a ton of Christians for that matter) are really tired of. One might ask: Matt, what is unclear about Jesus’ words in the “Great Commission” “...wherever you go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And teach them to faithfully follow all that I have commanded you…”?
If you or I are under the belief that our life long process of having a relationship with Jesus has its emphasis on salvation in the often dualistic (and even more often emotionally dissociated) way the western church does - then “winning souls” and counting salvations makes a lot of sense.
BUT, when you look at how Jesus rolls up His sleeves and dives in with the broken people around Him and how He gives His life away - you see an ENTIRELY different story. Think about the fact that Jesus was humiliated and died on a cross. Yes, the cross makes a way for His and our resurrection and victory. AND, just as crucial to understand is that His death modeled for us humans that death is the way to love and maturity. He is crystal clear with this in his death and resurrection, and He is also clear with this in His life and teaching. In Matthew 5 (His preamble to the sermon on the mount) He says what some theologians say is the most important thing said in human history: the first beatitude. The greatest compilation of Jesus’ teachings are to be run through the lense, or the filter of this first beatitude, which says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” In modern language this means: I am particularly with those of you that are desperate and at your end, the Kingdom is yours. (The implication being that if you're not poor and aware of your need the Kingdom is NOT yours).
This is part of a way bigger discussion but for the sake of this brief Distillery post... When we read, “make disciples,” or, “teach them to faithfully follow all that I have commanded you,” what if we lived and modeled lives that regularly die to our agendas, our precious opinions and even our own desires. What if we daily and desperately brought our poor, needy hearts to Jesus. Imagine how trustworthy of a people we’d be! Low, human, like all other humans. AND, we get to grab hands all around us and say, “COME ON! THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN - GOD HIMSELF - IS OURS!” His name is Immanuel - God with us - shouldn’t our posture to the world be with instead of to?