Friday, 10 January 2014

Commitment is a very big word. Especially when it comes to sharing the Gospel.

We live in a society that isn't that big on commitment today.  An example of that would be marriage versus co-habitation - these days, young couples move in with each other ‘to see how things go’, rather than make a commitment to each other. The world is changing rapidly as a consequence of this attitude in society.

I have been thinking a lot lately about commitment to the Gospel. When we know how vital it is to witness to others and that people need to about the One who can save them – does this knowledge renew our passion and commitment to share the good news?

“As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:57-62

The scripture above is one that is extremely challenging. Jesus was speaking about commitment. When I was in sales and management we used to call it “Being blinkered”. In other words, someone being totally focussed on achieving their tasks or goals.

After the man said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go”, Jesus gave him a straight answer, which in today’s language would be “Think about what you are saying, following me is not going to be easy.”

I preached a message recently and asked the people listening “What do you think evangelism or witnessing is?” and received responses like “Sharing the good news” and “Letting people know about Jesus”.

I spoke about someone who once described it this way:

Evangelism is the work of rescuing people from certain death. It is putting aside all fear and hesitance, knowing that we cannot stand by and watch people die without doing something to stop it.”

I am challenged by that statement and it made me examine my own commitment levels. Am I blinkered when it comes to sharing the good news? How do I view people that I come into contact with on a daily basis? Do I view them as souls either going to heaven or destined for a lost eternity? What if I don’t think about it and just get on with my day?

Being committed is hard. It requires resilience and effort. It is not an easy thing to do. We are often committed to specific TV programmes, activities, hobbies and family-time. But many Christians lack in commitment to prayer, reading the word, church attendance and that of sharing the Gospel.

Key Point: Don’t allow yourself to develop a loser’s limp!

When I was a sales manager I would spend many hours driving my car. During those times I would listen to sales training tapes or ones about maintaining a positive mental attitude. One of my favourite speakers was Zig Ziglar. He would often talk about the “Loser’s limp”. He would explain how a player in an American football game would be chasing someone with the ball, only to pull up, limping. He felt that sometimes the reasons were genuine and other times the chaser wasn’t committed and manufactured the limp.

The point I am making here is like the example of the man who said to Jesus “Lord, first let me go and bury my father”. We can get distracted, or we can find other things to do, or even sometimes find reasons not to be committed.

I once worked for a man in sales called Bob, who was a multi-millionaire. He would never listen to excuses, or allow any negative talk around him. As a result you always had to be positive whenever he was in earshot because if anyone spoke negatively or made an excuse, he would react very strongly.

He was not a believer, but I wonder what he might have said to people if he was saved, when people were struggling with their commitment to the Gospel. Here are a few examples of the kind of ways Bob would respond:

Believer: “It’s difficult to witness my colleague at work.”
Bob: “Well, meet them outside of work and share the Gospel!”

Believer: “I can’t find the time to witness.”
Bob: “Make time, how much time do you spend in front of the TV?”

Believer: “I am not sure what to say.”
Bob: “That’s easy, learn what to say. Spend some time with John who is great at that. He will help you.”

These answers might seem a bit extreme. But that is what he was like. Bob would never allow anyone to limp unless it was genuine. I am very grateful for having no nonsense bosses like him. They pushed me on to try things I’d never have dreamed of myself. In turn, I became the same with my people and developed them with similar challenges. 

 When it comes to the Gospel, how committed are you? What could you change?

Here are a few things you could commit to:

·        Intentionally give out a least one tract a week. By that I mean pray about who to give it to.
·        Build bridges with neighbours or colleagues to give you opportunities to share your faith with them.
·        Start inviting people to church.
·        Learn how to share the Gospel
·        Pray for opportunities consistently – and expectantly!

If someone asked you about your commitment, what would your answer be?