by César De León Ph.D LMFT, Ministerial Director for the North Pacific Union Conference
I returned last week from our NAD’s E-Huddle (the annual session focused on Evangelism in North America). As is customary, attendees were invited to articulate their thoughts and reactions to the multiple speakers invited to share what was working for them. Attendees traditionally sit at round-tables to share their reactions and any other meaningful dialogue pertaining to evangelism.
One of the several comments shared that stuck in my head was, “The reality is that we need more evangelism money to reach our culture.” At the time, I remember nodding in full agreement. Reaching middle, upper-middle class individuals has indeed proven to be, well . . . pricey.
What Would Happen IF . . .
As I shared some of the highlights of this year’s event with my wife upon my return, we began our own round table discussion and we wondered out loud, “What would happen IF. . . ”
- What would happen IF every church invested monies to train their members on how to better imitate Christ’s methods of reaching broken people for His Father’s Kingdom?
- What would happen IF members learned how to approach their neighbors with kindness?
- What would happen if members learned how to be more compassionate with the hurting in their workplaces?
- What would happen IF members learned how they could become more empathetically engaged with those in their own circles of influence, who suffer under the banner of the enemy because they truly don’t know a better way?”
Jesus’ evangelism budget was ZERO dollars, yet the majority of those He came into personal contact with were transformed into contagious disciples. The budget for His 12 disciples was zilch. . . nada.
“Never was there such an evangelist as Christ. He was the Majesty of heaven, but He humbled Himself to take our nature, that He might meet men where they were. To all people, rich and poor, free and bond, Christ, the Messenger of the covenant, brought the tidings of salvation.” (MH, 22).
Yet, Jesus and His disciples birthed the primitive Christian church movement, that while sadly divided today, still remains a force to be reckoned with.
Doing the Father’s Will
Jesus—the consummate disciple—realized from his childhood training years, that His primary mission in life was to do His Father’s will. He understood that all other life and culture priorities would necessarily have to fall beneath his primary mission which was to align himself to those activities His Heavenly Father’s was already involved in, while intentionally reflecting the Father’s love infused character.
After healing the man at the pool of Bethesda, Jesus responded to the infuriated Jewish leaders, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working” (John 5:17). Then again in verse 19, Jesus clarified further, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner…” Later in the verse of chapter 5, Jesus reiterates, “I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.”
“In all things He brought His wishes into strict obedience to His mission. He glorified His life by making everything in it subordinate to the will of His Father.
He was always patient and cheerful, and the afflicted hailed Him as a messenger of life and peace. He saw the needs of men and women, children and youth, and to all He gave the invitation, “Come unto Me.” (MH, 19, italics applied)
Jesus had a way with people. His approach was winsome. His heart intentions were felt by those He approached. Christ’s friendliness with nothing like the “Amway friendliness” many of us have encountered, that initially appears to be an offer genuine friendship, until you announce you aren’t interested in buying into their product line.
“He taught in a way that made them feel the completeness of His identification with their interests and happiness. His instruction was so direct, His illustrations were so appropriate, His words so sympathetic and cheerful, that His hearers were charmed. The simplicity and earnestness with which He addressed the needy, hallowed every word” (MH, 24, italics applied).
The time Jesus spent in His Father’s presence during the early morning hours before sunrise and often during full nights of prayerfully seeking His Father’s directives, was non-negotiable. He understood that broken people desperately needed to encounter the transformational presence of Father’s Grace, Love, Compassion and Mercy.
“Gracious, tenderhearted, pitiful, He went about lifting up the bowed-down and comforting the sorrowful. Wherever He went, He carried blessing” MH,24.
I wonder. . . What would happen if we went about our lives. . . open and attuned to our Father’s workings as we intentionally followed Jesus’ example of “lifting up the bowed-down and comforting the sorrowful”? What would happen if every Adventist disciple became so attuned to the Father’s heart as they daily sought communion in His presence, seeking His directives, that each one became a contagious disciple who carried a blessing everywhere they went?