This post is derived from the book Becoming A Contagious Christian (BACC) by Bill Hybels and Mark Mittleberg.
In the very last words of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus gave this instruction 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
He had shown them the example they should follow; now it was their turn to go forward and take the message of salvation to others. Later, in the book of Acts, Jesus added final instructions, as recorded by Luke:
In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
You see, even now, in his resurrected presence, some were still doubting. This was a huge deal and very hard for them to wrap their heads around. Jesus gave them “many convincing proofs” but they did not yet have the Holy Spirit living inside to provide inner assurance, guide them, and provide God’s power to carry out their mission. They were not yet reborn of God’s Spirit.
This is where everyone begins outside of Christ. It’s too much to believe the incredibly good news Jesus proclaimed without God’s power to back it up. It seems too good to be true. The disciple Thomas felt this way when his friends told him they’d seen Jesus alive after he’d watched him die on the cross. When Jesus appeared, Thomas then gave his confession, “My Lord, and my God!” We all need God to touch us in some way in order to find faith. And we must receive him to sustain it and put it into practice.
Practice Makes Perfect
James wrote in his letter “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” Christ gave his followers a mission to proclaim salvation through the cross. He also promised power to go with it. The power of God’s Holy Spirit engages both seekers and those he lives within who proclaim his message. Without seeking, there is no power revealed. Without proclaiming, there is no power released in and through the believer. It is as if both seekers and believers must step into the deep waters of faith before we can walk with Christ. Outside of that is certain failure. Jesus is the “author and perfecter” of faith.
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
Costs And Benefits
Anyone can dream. It’s cheap and easy. Just wish upon a star and make believe. If we want to do something real though, we have to plan it out and take action. To succeed we have to prepare for the costs. Businesses make choices based on cost/benefit analysis: How much will it cost to gain what benefit? If the estimate is correct and the benefits exceed the costs, the enterprise thrives. If the estimate presumed incorrectly, loss will occur. There are real world costs and benefits to seeking and sharing Christ, if that’s what you want to do. It is wise to consider them in view of the pursuit.
“And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’” Luke 14:27-30
In the book Becoming A Contagious Christian, Pastor Bill Hybels lists out some of the major considerations:
- Spiritual Growth
- Spiritual Confidence
- Enduring Investments
- The Honor of Being God’s Agent
- Time and Energy
- Reading and Study
- Risk of Embarrassment, Rejection, or Persecution
- It complicates Your Life