The most dangerous tool in Satan’s arsenal is distraction. He loves to distract us with things that don’t matter. It won’t matter in the end of time whether or not we had fancy buildings in which to worship God. It won’t matter in the Day of Judgment whether we had impressive programs in our churches. It won’t matter one bit when Jesus returns whether or nor we voted for the “right” politicians. The only thing that matters is that we live as good citizens of heaven in a manner that is worthy of the Gospel. This is Paul’s word to us in Phil. 1:27. Listen friends, when Paul says “The only thing that matters” he means “The ONLY thing that matters.” We ought to ask God to test our hearts to see whether living radically for the Gospel is truly the only thing that matters to us. We need to be cultivating relationships with non-believers in our communities and around the world with a view to introducing them to the most radical, revolutionary Person the world has ever known. Paul perfectly illustrates the point: Here was a man who was totally consumed with the Gospel to the point of giving his life for it. Here was a man who sacrificed all the comforts of his good life in Tarsus to experience suffering because he loved other people more than he loved himself. Here is Paul in his own words:
Since you admire the egomaniacs of the pulpit so much (remember, this is your old friend, the fool, talking), let me try my hand at it. Do they brag of being Hebrews, Israelites, the pure race of Abraham? I’m their match. Are they servants of Christ? I can go them one better. (I can’t believe I’m saying these things. It’s crazy to talk this way! But I started, and I’m going to finish.) I’ve worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death’s door time after time. I’ve been flogged five times with the Jews’ thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I’ve been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I’ve had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I’ve been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I’ve known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather.
Wow! Anyone you know ever suffered like that for the Gospel? Listen friends, our world today has 6.4 billion individuals living in 234 geo-political nations with over 16,000 people groups. Of those people groups, more than 6,900 remain least-reached. This simply means they are a people group lacking an indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize their own people. This means that 1 in 4 people groups remain without access to the gospel. Here’s a partial listing of them.
Our Lord Jesus was careful time and again to stress the cost of all-out devotion to Him. Our church rolls are loaded with people who claim to be following Jesus but who have no idea of His priorities for the church. What many churches need is a big farewell party in which we tell this age goodbye. We sing “Content to let the world go by” while wearing ourselves out trying to keep up with it! Well, I have said my goodbye to cheap Christianity. I have said my goodbye to raising up vast edifices of wood, hay, and stubble. I have said my goodbye to a little religion. I have said goodbye to the cheap satisfactions of this world. I am fed up with the husks of swine. The water of Life, the meat of the Word, the manna of Heaven – there is a King’s table waiting for the believer, and the supply is inexhaustible. True missionary activity should be the outflow of who we are in Christ. It is one thing to pay God a tip on Sunday morning. It is another thing to submit to His plan and program in uncompromising, unquestioning obedience every day of our lives. John Piper puts it well:
We do not believe Jesus when he says there is more blessedness, more joy, more full and lasting pleasure in a life devoted to helping others than there is in a life devoted to our material comfort. And therefore the very longing for contentment which (according to Jesus) ought to drive us to simplicity of life and labors of love contents itself instead with the broken cisterns of American prosperity and comfort.
What a time for the church in North America to be drunk with her own amusements and comfort and success when she should be awake and alert to the Lord’s commission! His business is our business as Christians. We have no other. There is only one way to handle the problem scripturally and that is to surrender our unsurrendered selves, repent of our ingrownness and self-centeredness, and then get back to being about the Father’s business!
Students, I challenge you to love Jesus more than anything or anyone else. I challenge you to accomplish great things for the kingdom sacrificially. I challenge you to love the lost more than you love your comfort. There are a good many causes you can get caught up in, but there is only one cause that is worth living and dying for. Rather than blindly going along with the culture and even with the church subculture that is focused on itself, I challenge you to go wide with the Gospel among your friends and to the uttermost parts of the earth.
Let’s live for the Cause of all causes!