“You lead people to become disciples of Jesus by ravishing them with a vision of life in the kingdom of the heavens in the fellowship of Jesus. And you do this by proclaiming, manifesting, and teaching the kingdom of heaven to them in the manner learned from Jesus himself. You thereby change the belief system that governs their lives.” Dallas Willard
Are you ravishing others with a vision of life in the kingdom? Are you proclaiming, manifesting, and teaching the kingdom of heaven in loving, relational, sacrificial, creative, gracious, and Spirit-empowered ways? Does Jesus spill out of you?
If people knew you were a Christian – if they got to see you working at your job, browsing the web, spending money, interacting with others, going through difficulties, the normal things of life – would they want to be one too? Or would they shrug and simply say, “No thanks.”
“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:35
In many ways, we are not just the messengers. We are also the message. Christ lives his life in and through us. We bear his image. We are the light of the world and the salt of the earth.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. 2 Corinthians 5:17-20
That’s a big job, and a big responsibility. It’s one we’ve grown accustomed to outsourcing. The professionals tell us to invite our unsaved friends to the next service, or outreach event, or whatever. They will do the hard work for us.
Unfortunately, it is only half the work at best. The message may be accurately proclaimed (fingers crossed), but what about the messengers? How do they live? How do they love? What about the person sitting next to me? What about me? What about you?
Easy come, easy go.
Easy in, easy out.
Here’s a pattern I’ve noticed in my life: the better my relationship with God, the better my relationships with others. The more love I receive, the more love I have to give. As I let God transform me, he uses me to transform others.
But there is no ravishing others with a vision of life in the kingdom if we ourselves aren’t soaking in it.
We want shortcuts. We want simple tools. We want anything that will get us off the hook. But the hook is really a cross and it’s where we’re most alive.
So before we get all caught up in methods, let’s get back to basics.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
God, help us remain in you so that our lives and our words are one beautiful expression of you. Forgive us where we have fallen short. Make us givers and receivers of your love.