Overcoming the Drift toward Inward Focus
Last week, when we talked about living in community with each other, we said that the church is a spiritual family. As those who have been adopted into God’s family, we share a common family identity. And we want to live out that identity by pursing close relationships with each other not just on Sundays but throughout the week.
So the church is a family. But we have to be careful that the church never becomes an inwardly focused family—because that can very easily happen.
Our natural tendency will always be to gravitate towards inward focus. It’s so easy to get that way and gradually become more and more indifferent to outsiders. But we have to guard against that, because Jesus has given us a mission, and that mission involves reaching out to other people.
In Matthew 28, Jesus famously gives his disciples instructions that will guide every aspect of their lives. To set the scene: Jesus has just died on the cross and been resurrected from the dead. And as he’s about to ascend into heaven, he says to his disciples:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
This is the reason why when we become Christians, God doesn’t immediately take us up to heaven. He’s left us here so we can accomplish something very specific: this mission of making disciples.
Making disciples isn’t just one task of the church—it’s the task of the church. That means everything we do as a church should contribute in some way to this mission of making disciples.
That’s why Redeeming Grace Church has this mission statement to keep us on track: “Our mission is to lead people to know Jesus personally, grow to spiritual maturity, and become disciple-makers themselves.” Basically, making disciples. We want to be a disciple-making factory.
This is how we evaluate every activity we do and every dollar we spend: Does it help people know Jesus personally, grow to spiritual maturity, and become disciple-makers themselves? If it doesn’t pass that test, then we don’t do it as a church. We have a laser beam focus. We’re not going to let ourselves get distracted.
Unfortunately, many churches do get distracted. I’ve visited one church in our city that has launched a campaign to save their stained glass windows. They have some very historic stained glass windows, and I’m told these windows will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix. And since the church has lost a lot of its membership in recent years, the 40 or so people who attend don’t have that kind of money. So they’ve launched a fundraising campaign to ask people outside the church help them in their quest to save their stained glass windows.
Now hear me: I’m sure their stained glass windows have a lot of sentimental value to them and I certainly don’t want to be overly harsh in my criticism of another church, but I can’t help but wonder of that church has lost its focus on the mission Jesus has given us of making disciples.
So what are you doing to make disciples? Are you going out of your way to build genuine friendships with non-Christians? Are you living in such a way that displays the power of the gospel to change people? Let’s grow in these areas together.