A Devotion based on John 1:40-45
One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter). The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” (John 1:40-45 ESV)
Everything is a system, a series of parts that work together to achieve a specific goal. Mechanically, an engine is a system, a series of parts (pistons, fuel injectors, belts, etc.) that work together to achieve the goal of moving a vehicle such an automobile. Administratively, an office staff is a system, a series of parts (people doing different jobs) that work together to achieve the goals of the organization. The same can be said of the church. The church is a system, a partnership of people (pastor and parishioners) who work to fulfill the mission of the church, that is, making disciples of all nations.
Whether it is an engine, a business office, or a church, even the smallest change in the system can either diminish or improve the efficiency of the system. Adjusting the timing belt on the engine can improve the car’s performance. The IT guy calling in sick on the day when the server is offline can slow down productivity for the day. Just a small change can impact the whole system.
Again, the same can be said of the church. In fact, the same needs to be said of the church. If we are going to take the mission of the church seriously, we need to change something. It is not a big change. It is a small change. Now, this may sound counterintuitive to any discussion you have ever heard about the mission of the church, but we need to stop shouting it from the mountain tops. In other words, we need to stop using the word “everyone.”
No, I am not implying that the Gospel message is not for everyone. It is! God’s will is that all people come to the saving knowledge of Jesus (I Timothy 2:4). And, Jesus, Himself, said to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). The Gospel is for everyone. But, this mandate was given to the Church, not to any one individual. The Church’s goal is all nations, that is, everyone. Your participation in that goal is specific people you can disciple. That is the change. You are not called to tell to stand on a mountain top. You are not called to tell everyone about Jesus. You are called to tell someone – a friend, a co-worker, someone you know.
This is the example that we see with Andrew and Philip in this text from John 1. Andrew followed Jesus and decided he needed to go get his brother, Peter. The same thing happened with Philip. He went and found his friend, Nathanael, and said, “We found the Messiah.” They did not go “shouting from mountain tops” but went and told people that they knew, people they thought would benefit from knowing about Jesus.
When you read a good book or see a movie you thoroughly enjoyed. Who do you tell? Everyone? Most likely not. If the movie was a scary thriller, you most likely will not tell someone who doesn’t enjoy those types of movies. But, your co-worker who does? You tell him first thing Monday morning when you see him. This is what needs to happen in how we engage the mission of the church. This is the change that needs to happen. Always thinking “everyone” leaves the mission in the abstract. It lets us off the hook because how can we tell “everyone.” We need to think specifically. Who will benefit from hearing about something that was said in the sermon or in a Bible study. When we finish a good book, we will post it on Facebook and specifically tag those whom we think would enjoy it as well. Perhaps you heard a sermon that focused on an issue that you know your neighbor would benefit hearing about. Go tell that neighbor! You are willing to tell that neighbor about that book or that movie. Why not tell her about Jesus?
A simple change. That’s all this is. Think about the impact this can have on the effectiveness of the mission of the church. Not everyone – just a specific person. Not a mountain top hike – just a conversation in a front yard or in the break room at work.
Learning to live life as it’s meant to be. That’s what we strive to do here at Grace, to live under the cross in the new life that we have in Christ through His death and resurrection. The posts on this blog, grounded in God’s Word, will be offered as a source of encouragement, comfort and strength “along life’s way” to the end that we live lives of service in our homes, in our communities and in our congregations.