In the first part of this series, Behind Enemy Lines: Situational Awareness, we presented the premise that we, as Christians, are living ‘behind enemy lines.’ We are no longer citizens of this world, but we are members of God’s household, new creations in Christ (2 Cor 5:17). We discussed the clear teaching of Scripture that the world in which we live is hostile territory. We then concluded with the question, “Why are we Still Here?” Where do we go to find the answer?
Well, we can walk into just about any Christian bookstore, listen to any number of teachers, preachers, televangelists, television or radio ministries and get all sorts of answers! We can come away easily with the impression that the Christian life is mostly about things on an individual/personal level, such as relationships, abundant/victorious living, success in this world, receiving all of God’s blessings, etc.
While the above might be ‘benefits’ of being part of the household of God and citizens of His Kingdom, are they to be the primary focus of the Christian life? If they aren’t, what is?
I submit to you that God didn’t send His own Son to die so we could have an abundant life here on earth. Rather, He came because we are lawbreakers, born on death row, in order to save us from the certain judgment that MUST come if God is true to His word—“The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
When we become believers and citizens of the Kingdom of God, we must still live here (behind enemy lines) in a world corrupted by sin, among people trapped in their sin. We remain here by God’s design, for His purpose, as part of His strategic plan to save others from the certain judgment that is to come.
Chapter 17 of he Gospel of John records our Lord’s prayer to His Father shortly before he went to the cross to fulfill God’ plan for our salvation. Concerning his disciples and, by extension, all believers to come, Jesus prayed:
“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.” (vv 16-21a)
Jesus asked for their protection, NOT their removal, because as he had been sent into the world for the salvation of the lost, He (Jesus) was now sending his followers into the world as part of a divine plan!
Furthermore, this ‘sending’ into the world was no secret to the disciples! Earlier, the Lord himself told them:
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” (John 15:16)
Also, it was no secret to the disciples what they would face from the world during their ‘fruit bearing’ mission. Read the entire chapter of John 15 for the rest of the story. They knew they would be operating in hostile territory, but they went anyway!
The remaining piece to the puzzle is to define the ‘fruit.’ We know from the above verse that it is to be ‘fruit that will last’—eternal fruit. So what is this eternal fruit? There is a two-part answer here. The first thing that should come to mind is that we are to show others the only way to escape coming judgment—the path to eternal life. The second part of the answer is not quite so obvious. We are to help other believers grow in their faith walk so that they, in turn, will show still others the path to eternal life and help them grow! If you aren’t convinced, listen to Jesus’ command to his disciples.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).
The ‘Great Commission’ Christ gave to the disciples then and to us now is NOT about all the ‘benefits of belonging to the corporation’ mentioned at the beginning of this article, but ALL about growing the Kingdom of God on earth! ALL about the Kingdom.
What drives this old soldier to his knees is the fact that God could save anyone he chooses, anytime he chooses, in any circumstance he chooses—and yet he has chosen mortal human beings, with all their ‘sin’ baggage to be his ambassadors! Knowing we would mess up repeatedly, knowing that often we would be poor examples of Christ, God has chosen us—you and me! That, my friends is God’s master vision—His ‘strategic’ plan!
You might ask, “Isn’t this ambassador thing—preaching the Gospel and helping others grow in Christ the job of people with a special calling to full-time ministry and who have gone to Bible college or seminary?
What sort of training do you need for the task at hand? Let’s look at a couple of guys who did some street preaching a couple thousand years ago.
When they (Jewish religious leaders and the Roman ‘feds’) saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)
Our Lord chose unschooled, ordinary men, not religious leaders, for the enormous task of spreading the Good News to the rest of their world. Job qualification—just one— they had been with Jesus. He chooses us for the same task in our world—in our homes and workplaces, in our barracks and squad rooms, on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq.
You and I have been ‘sent where we are,’ right now in our lives, on a mission from God! If we ‘have been with Jesus’ we have a responsibility. Have you accepted the challenge?