Don’t forget to set your clocks ahead 1 hour this weekend.
“STOP COPYING ME!”
We’ve all been there. That moment when either we or someone else begins to mimic a person. This is usually a pursuit of kids to irritate their siblings. It begins with repeating what they say and escalates until the one being copied says something the imitator doesn’t want to repeat or calls for parental reinforcements. In that moment, you may realize how much they are like you.
A more pleasant version of this revelation is when you notice your child copying you. Especially when they are young, children like to imitate their parents. It may be copying your movements, or following you around, or trying on your shoes. When they are little, they are learning how to live in the world and there is no one else they would rather be like than mom and dad. While this tugs at our hearts, it also might scare us! “What if they turn out like me?”
Children become their parents. It is a fact of life. Sure, there are differences in personality or physical appearance or interests, but by and large kids are shaped more by their parents than anyone else. There might be the phases where you are the enemy and they don’t want to be anything like you, but due to DNA and your home environment, they will be. It’s a fact of both nature and nurture.
We of course want them to pick up the good parts and pass over the bad. This puts a big responsibility on our shoulders. There is of course nothing better that we can do than to point them to Jesus. Ultimately, it is him that we should want them to resemble most. So, we must do some imitating of our own.
Paul invited people to follow him as he followed Christ. This is our best option for helping our children and anyone else to become the best possible version of themselves. It is an exercise in being transformed as we copy the ways of Jesus. We are to be imitators of God, and in turn, we are transformed into the image of Christ. We imitate God as his dear children and are changed. As we follow him, we set an example for others to follow.
As we journey through Ephesians beginning this month, it is my hope that we all will answer the call of our heavenly Father. He says to us, “Start copying me!” And he won’t get irritated with us one bit when we do. Instead, he will be moved with love for his children who want to be just like him.
You already know how. The truth is, all of us know how to share Christ with someone else. We are all evangelists. The question is, what are we evangelists of? Some of us are evangelists of a new trend we are enjoying, maybe a new weight loss product or workout regimen. For others, it is a favorite sport or past time. We spread the news about our favorite team, or maybe our kids, or our chosen political party or candidate. Evangelism is simply sharing a message. That’s what the word means.
We are all really good at talking about ourselves. We readily share what makes us happy, what makes us tick, or what makes us angry. We feel no tension in revealing to others a myriad of topics. We can’t wait at times to relay the newest and most exciting thing we’ve experienced. So, why are we so hesitant to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with others? Why do we feel we need some type of training, or system, or degree?
1) FEAR: Let’s be honest. Most of the time we are afraid of being rejected or viewed as a fanatic. We don’t share that fear when it comes to promoting essential oils, or protein shakes, or restaurant deals. Why? Because those things made a felt difference in our lives and we want others to benefit. So why should we be ashamed or shy about sharing the difference Jesus has made in our lives?
2) PRESSURE: People don’t want to hear it, right? Faith is supposed to be personal. You do what’s right for you. This only goes as far as a political stance, or if you heard “Laurel” or “Yanny”, or if toilet paper should roll over or under. Why should we be worried about offending people with the Gospel when we are not nearly concerned about doing so in areas that don’t matter one bit? The Gospel is never to be kept personal.
3) EXPERTISE: This is a big one. We worry we will mess it up. We might not say the right thing, we might get it wrong. There are two things here – Share what you know and learn what you don’t. This is true of every pursuit of your life. It is never an issue when talking about any other area of our lives. It is always okay to say, “I don’t know”, or “Let’s find out together”. Be encouraged. Jesus promises us that the Holy Spirit will give us the words to say when we need them.
4) SILENT WITNESS: Many people ascribe to, “Share the gospel, and if necessary, use words.” That sounds good, but it’s often a copout. The truth is words are ALWAYS necessary. How will people ever know what Jesus has done for them unless you tell them? Otherwise, they might think you’re just a nice person.
The reality is that we do not share Christ, because it is uncomfortable. The enemy will give us any number of justifications, fears, alternatives, and excuses we need. He does not want people to find the hope, peace, joy, forgiveness, freedom, and eternal life that Jesus provides. Stop listening to him.
There is one other possibility. It may be that you can’t share what you haven’t experienced. Perhaps you have never actually trusted Christ to save you. Maybe you’ve even grown up in or joined a church, but you have not been and are not continually being converted. You cannot share what you don’t know. If that is you, I would encourage you to trust Jesus today. I would love to talk with you about who Jesus is and what he has done for you. It will change your life.
is a peculiar word. While it is common in the realm of the Church, it is not
easy to pin down. If you were to ask ten different people to explain discipleship,
you could very well end up with ten different explanations. This is
The job of the Church, according to Jesus, is to make disciples. He gives some specific items for us to do regarding this: baptizing and teaching. This seems simple enough until you look at the actual structure of the sentence that we read in Matthew 28. Jesus says, “Make disciples…” and we are to baptize and teach those disciples. Clearly there is more to the equation. Baptism and teaching are not a two-point checklist to completion of the job, they are parts of the job.
The Church struggles to stay on mission. In my experience consulting churches who are attempting to revitalizing and refocusing their ministries, it was common to find clarity on the fact that we are to make disciples. What was rarely found was an understanding of how to do it. Commonly, there was the idea of more classes and more tasks, as if one more Sunday school class or a Bible reading plan was the key to discipleship. Often those who affirmed the Great Commission had no plan or process to achieve it.
There is a possibility that your own discipleship has been stunted. Perhaps you find yourself frustrated and wondering if there is something more. Perhaps you are happy that following Jesus is an important part of your life, and rarely requires much of you. Perhaps you have checked all the boxes on church membership and feel a sense of accomplishment. Any of the three of these reveals that you have not yet understood what it is to be a disciple of Jesus.
Here at Engage, we say we exist to bring people to life in Christ, because love. This is simply the way we describe the mission of God to make disciples. This year, we will be working to move forward in that pursuit. We will be developing our process to make sure we are on mission. It starts with defining what a disciple even is. As we start a new year, I hope that you will join me on this journey towards Christ and the life he desires for each of us.