There was a missionary in China whose talents and abilities were so outstanding that one of the American companies tried to hire him. They offered him an attractive job with a salary to match, but he turned it down. He told them God had sent him to China as a missionary.
He thought that would end the matter, but instead they came back with a better offer and an increase in salary. He turned that down too, but again they came back, doubling the financial package.
Finally, he said to them, "It's not your salary that's too little. It's the job that's too small!"
Going into all the world to make disciples is a BIG job! That's why it's so odd to see so many church leaders make such little offers—such small challenges—to their congregations. Some challenge their flocks with baby steps for fear they will leave if confronted with a BIG, God-sized challenge.
Challenges like Jesus made ...
" ... Go and sin no more" John 8:11b.
"Jesus told him, 'If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me'" Matthew 19:21.
"But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!" Matthew 5:20.
"You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your hand—even your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell" Matthew 5:27-30.
"Then he said to the crowd, 'If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me'" Luke 9:23."But Jesus told him, 'Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God'" Luke 9:60.
Jesus didn't call people to baby steps, He confronted them with challenges so big that to respond would mean turning their lives upside down!
Many walked away. That never stopped Jesus from making BIG challenges!
It often stops today's leaders. We fret about asking someone to hand out bulletins, greet visitors or help serve communion. And we don't even consider asking someone to go share the Gospel with an unbeliever for fear of completely freaking out the "Christian" with such a request. Yet, for someone to repent of their sin and follow Jesus Christ requires the greatest challenge of all—we have to be challenged to die to self and live for Christ!
How are you challenging the people you lead ... with the challenges of Christ? Or pleas for the occasional baby step?
Artist and photographer Jeremy Cowart takes us on an amazing creative journey to see the face of Christ.