Correcting an Imbalance

The reality is that the church (I hasten to add "in America") has clearly been way out of balance in several ways for the past few centuries. There are two perspectives, then, from which this contrasting perspective can come:

1) We can present the correct truth in the proper balance. Or

2) We can present the correct truth in a similar over-emphasis, opposed to the previous, erroneous over-emphasis.

Since most people who will hear a new or corrective word will hear it from their own history of imbalance, their history will impact how they hear the new word. I'm guessing that it will be strongly flavored in favor of their history: that’s what they know.

So the net result of the two options are:

1) If we present the balanced truth, it's heard and received in the context of their historical error and serves only to bump the listener's understanding a tiny bit closer toward center: they've had 40 years of error, and ONE statement that's properly balanced won't fix their understanding. Or

2) We over emphasize the correct truth, in hopes that when it's heard in the context of 40 years of error, it will bring people to a balanced perspective after the dust settles. The drawbacks of this perspective include:

a) It requires people to think for themselves, which is a sketchy proposition at best, and

b) Taken by itself, the truth thusly presented is as unbalanced as the preceding error has been, and therefore it is open to legitimate criticism, which may cause the truth to be altogether discarded and therefore become completely non-influential.

Note that pastors and teachers will typically only see the first option ("present everything in balance"), while prophets and apostles typically tend to see only the second option ("emphasize the truth"). I think evangelists just ignore the conversation while they preach to the lost. . .

I wrestle with the same thing on my blog (which you are reading now). I keep having friends correct my over-emphasis of current revelation to the point where I think my writing comes out pretty wimpy. I'm trying to learn a healthy balance, and I haven't found it: somewhere between balanced and unbalanced is the right balance…. I think. . .

It seems to me that when the OT prophets spoke, they spoke the truth bluntly and forcefully, with no attempt to balance it. But then, they're motivated as prophets, not pastors, aren’t they.


In reality, I suspect that God is more interested in the truth being presented, rather than the details of how it's presented. He's going to take our words - whatever words we use - and shape them with the Holy Spirit anyway.

In other words, it’s probably more important that we “speak the truth in love” than that we speak in exactly the right way, particularly if we bathe the thing in prayer.

So let’s speak up when we hear heresy, when we see the church going awry, when there are wolves among the sheep.


The Trouble with Christian Bumper Stickers

1. All they do is identify car’s owner, and they do that poorly: “I’m an ineffective communicator trying to get a message across without actually relating to anyone!” or “I’m a member of the Christian Country Club!”

2. Bumper stickers are a violation of the great commission: we substitute “I’m a Christian” instead of “The Kingdom of God is among you!” We don’t preach the gospel; all we do is show a sticker on our car, and we generally stop there.

3. It replaces dialog with our culture or government with a vinyl proclamation of “I’m better than you, and here’s why!” No wonder the world doesn't like us!
4. They’re excuses: instead of living a Christ-filled life, we slap a sticker on our car. We substitute appearance for a life of obedience.

5. Many bumper stickers are written in in “Christianese”: Christian culture vocabulary – which the world doesn’t understand. Why would we want to parade our irrelevancy on our car?

6. Many of them are a false witnesses. The State Patrol in my area talk about “Flying Fish”: cars with fish stickers who drive like hell. Rude drivers with Jesus stickers are only giving evidence for the assumed hypocrisy of the church. If you can’t live up to the standard, don’t put the sticker on the car!

7. They’re an exercise in futility: Who ever heard of someone’s life – anyone’s life – being changed for the better by a bumper sticker, regardless of how witty it is?


Make Disciples, not Converts

The last great commandment that Jesus gave us before he left us to continue the work is the one we call the Great Commission. Matthew is most succinct about it:

Matthew 28:18: And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

In the English translation, there are four verbs in this command: go, make disciples, baptize and teach. So we teach our people to support missions, we make doctrines about baptisms and we expect the pastors to do the teaching.

I think we’ve misunderstood the heart of what Jesus was talking.

You probably know, the Bible (including this command) wasn’t written in English. It was written in Greek. In the original Greek text, there is a single command: Make disciples.

The rest of the verbs are actually participles; they discuss how to make disciples:

· Make disciples by going.

· Make disciples by baptizing.

· Make disciples by teaching.

So there is a single command: “Make disciples.” By the way, the command is not: “Make converts.” Jesus is not commanding us to count the number of hands raised at an altar call or to finish meetings with the famous line, “With every eye closed….”

For the record, He’s also not commanding us to make “church members,” “fellow believers”, or “saints” or “new converts classes.”

He’s telling us to make disciples.

The question arises: what is a disciple. Jesus never defines the word, but He models it:

Matthew 10:25: “It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master.”

Luke 6:40: “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.”

Paul expounded on it a little more.

1 Corinthians 11: 1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.

2 Timothy 2: 2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

For the sake of completeness, Vine’s Bible Dictionary says that the Greek word (which is mafetew for those who need to know) says “A ‘disciple’ was not only a pupil, but an adherent; hence they are spoken of as imitators of their teacher

So here’s the assignment: clone yourself. Whatever you have, give it away. (Don’t worry about the things you don’t have: you don’t have to give that away. Yet.) As you follow Jesus, lead by example. The Book describes it this way:

1 Thessalonians 2:8: We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.

One of my pet peeves is that the Church has been taught for so many years that we’re sinners, we’re bad people, and it’s only by the grace of God that we’re not like those tax collectors and harlots of the world. “Oh, I couldn’t do that. I’m not good enough!”

Bosh! The Book says we’re saints, even priests! Everyone running the race has someone ahead of them that they can learn from, and someone behind us that we can help. Let’s find those people.

Our whole purpose, from the very beginning in the Garden of Gethsemane, has been to “Go forth and multiply!” That means “make disciples”, not “make converts.”

So it’s not all about keeping the midwives busy with new babies. Sometimes it’s about making spiritual babies into spiritual leaders. There are different levels of maturity, and our job is to help each other – those ahead of us, those beside us and those behind us – to keep moving forward towards maturity.

I have three suggestions for walking this out:

1) Make a conscious choice to become an influencer of people. If you see yourself as a sheep, you’ll never see the opportunities. If you see yourself as a shepherd, suddenly, you’ll see sheep everywhere. Be ready to be a disciple-maker.

2) When you have opportunity, leak. Let the character, the values, the actions of heaven show. Don’t ever be pushy, don’t try to make a program out of it, but look for opportunities. I was surprised recently to discover an opportunity to speak into the life of a successful sales rep who was concerned about the fact that his territory included Las Vegas. I had the chance to speak into him, and we prayed together on the crowded sales floor.

3) If you’re not in a in discipling relationships, it’s time to change that. It’s time to make sure that we are a disciple before we become a disciple-maker. I guess it’s kinda hard to give away what we don’t have.

But let’s make disciples!