For those of you new to this blog series, we are expanding on five points our President of New Generations, Harry Brown, wishes he would have known at 35, in regard to completing the work of the Great Commission.
It’s a grand topic. It’s something each of us as Jesus-followers must take ownership of, and we think you’ll be very challenged and encouraged through this series. If you are new, please take some time to review the first two blogs, Get Serious About Strategy, and Ordinary People Are The Only Option.
Here’s what Harry had to say for point three:
Obedience is the epicenter.
This is largely unintelligible to Western Christians. They don’t get it. In fact, there are quite a few of them that are allergic to it. There is a huge, gigantic, Grand Canyon-sized difference between “believers” and “followers.” And the challenge here is that the West was won with the Gospel of salvation, and then we exported it. And it’s got a genetic defect in it.
The Gospel of salvation is completely true in that you understand you’re a sinner and He’s the Savior, and you get eternity. It’s completely insufficient in that, what God intended was a Gospel of the Kingdom, where you obey the King in everything.
There is a huge, gigantic, Grand Canyon-sized difference between “believers” and “followers.
Do a word search in your Bible program, and look for the “Gospel of the Kingdom,” and you’ll be shocked at how often it comes up and when it comes up. It comes up at the beginning. The first thing Jesus did after His baptism and His temptation is He went about to every town and village, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. He’s not talking about death, burial, and resurrection. That comes way later in the dialogue.
He’s talking about the Good News that the King has returned to reclaim His own, take that which was robbed from them, and set things that were broken right again. That’s the Gospel of the Kingdom, and it’s not in the mindset of people.
So, what we’re looking for are followers, not believers. And that comes through obedience. And here’s the crux of the matter: Jesus leaned in and looked at the guys and said, “If you love me, you’ll keep my commandments.” Full stop. No discussion. No ifs, ands, or buts. If you do, you will. It’s cause and effect.
What ministry and mission have digressed into, in way too big of a percentage, is a motivation that looks like a duty. “This is what I should do.” Or, it looks like fear. “If I don’t, there’s an ‘ouch’ in it for me.” Or, it looks like a reward. “If I do, I get something I want.”
Duty, reward, and fear are not the motivations that will win the world. Love is the kind of stuff to get you past the barriers. Love is what will make the difference.
Duty, reward, and fear are not the motivations that will win the world.
I personally got a “pants-down spanking” out of a review of Revelation 2 and 3. Jesus is walking among the churches, and this is a CEO discussion. I’ll characterize it this way. Jesus says, “Here’s what you did well, and I affirm it. Here is what you have left undone or what you did wrong, and I will give you time, and you will fix it or there will be consequences. Are there any questions?”
That is a CEO discussion. And, what He’s saying in that is: “I expect obedience in everything. Do not show up in front of me and try to get a free pass from the stuff you did right when there’s stuff left undone or stuff done wrong.”
That changed my thinking. There are all kinds of stuff that I could point to that I’ve accomplished and say, “This is nice! You should look at this.” And He does! And says, “Yay and amen. So should it be.” But He also says, “Hey. What about this other stuff?”
For those of you who have kids, you know what it means to be a good parent. You say “amen” to the stuff that’s right, but you do not give a free pass for the stuff that’s missing.
All of us are one day going to stand before the Lord, and He is going to ask us the question, “What part of ‘make disciples’ did you not understand?”
Obedience is the epicenter.
We love that you’re with us in this conversation. Next week, Harry will dive into point four of this discussion: Compounding is the key.