The 2020 Olympics in Tokyo are less than a year away, and so many athletes are in the throes of serious, disciplined preparation.
The 4x100m relay is one of the marquee events in track and field, and it always comes down to the pass of a small thirty-centimeter, aluminum baton. In 2008, both the USA men’s and women’s relay teams failed to qualify for the final due to a faulty handoff.
Just imagine the disappointment after all the preparation, potential, and time invested — wasted simply because there was a weak link on the team who failed to successfully pass the baton. On that team, everyone has a job to do and no one wants to be the weak link!
Now consider the similarities of the church fulfilling the Great Commission through evangelism.
In the church, everyone has a part to play in seeing the kingdom of Christ move forward. In many churches, the majority of seats are filled with Christians who believe evangelism is a task only for the select few given special gifts and passions.
In The Sending Church, Pat Hood offers resolution to people who think this way: “If we think some are ‘called’ to missions and others aren’t, then we’ll be content to pay for others to do missions for us. But when we realize we’re all ‘called’ to missions, everything changes.”
The Bible gives no category for “Green Beret special forces” Christians who are the select few called to share the gospel, but it does give clear instruction that the norm and expectation of every Christ follower is to speak up about the great rescue found in Christ. Two helpful passages inform this issue — 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 and Ephesians 6:13-18.
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. (2 Cor. 5:17-20)
Notice that Paul connects the relationship of becoming a new creation in Christ to the reality that all Christians are ambassadors for Christ. To be even clearer, all those who are “new creations” (v. 17) also have a “ministry of reconciliation” (v. 18), and a “message of reconciliation” (v. 19). In other words, don’t be guilty of basking in the blessing of your new identity in Christ while shirking your responsibility to be His ambassador.
We see a similar observation in Ephesians among the famous “armor of God” passage:
13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. (Eph. 6:13-18)
First, let’s not make the mistake of parsing out the different aspects of the armor without realizing the context suggests the “whole armor” of God is a complete set. Christians should understand, similar to what was discussed above, that you can’t put on the belt of truth or wield the sword of the Spirit without putting on your gospel shoes as well. The very truths of the gospel of peace are what give a Christian a readiness and excitement in telling others “I once was blind, but now I see … I once was lost, but now I am found.”
This all brings me back to you. Have you ever been guilty of getting all excited about being a new creation in Christ yet avoided your ministry and message of reconciliation? Or have you ever been anxious to claim the breastplate of righteousness and shield of faith, while ignoring the need to put on shoes of readiness given by the gospel of peace?
If so, repent, believe, let the grace of the Lord wash over you. Tell your pastor or a Christian friend that you are now ready and willing to take the Great Commission seriously.
After all, nobody wants to be the weak link!,
Published October 2, 2014