“Paul felt compelled by the Spirit to go over to Macedonia and Achaia before going to Jerusalem. ‘And after that.” he said, ‘I must go on to Rome.’” – Acts 19:21
When you talk about the dreams you have for the future, what do they involve? Do they include a comfortable retirement, a good 401k, perhaps some traveling? Those are a few of the things I think about. But then, as I’m preaching through the book of Acts at my church, I come across this verse where Paul says he must go on to Rome. It seems Paul’s idea of a future involved going to Rome and dying for His Lord, while Jesus’ earthly future involved Calvary. Both these men finished their lives with the needs of others on their mind and the promotion of the Good News on their hearts. Now I have to ask myself this question: Does my vision of the future involve the Good News of Jesus brought into people’s lives? How about you? What is your Gospel hope? Where do you plan to take the Gospel next?
If the Gospel is truly moving in you; if the Word of God is so deep into your life that it is able to judge and separate the thoughts and attitudes of your heart (Heb. 4:12), then it will confront any vision of the future that does not include speaking about the goodness of God and the sacrifice of His one and only Son. I’ll take it a step further. I don’t know if it is possible to be a fully dedicated disciple of Jesus Christ and have a vision for the future that does not include making disciples, because the Great Commission of Jesus to the Church is to take the Gospel into all nations and make disciples. It wasn’t to make churches, construct nice buildings, develop an exciting Children’s church, put together a killer worship team and hire a dynamic preacher that makes you feel good about your relationship with God. Christ commissioned us to make disciples.
Can we truly be obedient to God and not be involved in making disciples of Jesus? If you will not put yourself out and involve yourself in the lives of others in a way that introduces the full story of Jesus and the power of Calvary, then you can say you love God until you run out of breathe, but the truth is you’re not obeying the Word of the Lord.
Let us consider: The Great Commandment is that we love God with our heart, soul, mind and strength, and then we take that love of God and use it to love our neighbor. Now, having a love for our neighbor that is equal to the love we show ourselves, we now move onto the Great Commission, which is to go and make disciples. You see, if you are really living by the Great Commandment to love, then you cannot help but be involved in the Great Commission to make disciples. In other words, if you are not currently or have no future plans to help make disciples, you cannot truly say you love God with all your heart, because loving God with all your heart cannot be separated from going out into the world and making disciples. Giving money to missionaries is not making disciples. Helping support the pastor’s salary is not making disciples. Jesus never said, “It is up to all the church leaders to make disciples.” He never said, “Make sure all the ordained pastors teach a Sunday school class about growing as a disciple.”
Instead, Jesus took eleven simple men from simple and diverse backgrounds, told them to wait until they received the power of the Holy Spirit, and then take the Gospel to the ends of the earth and make disciples. My question is this: how does your future involve the spreading of the Gospel?
I answer that question by saying, “I don’t ever plan to retire.” It’s true that one day I won’t have the strength to be the pastor of a church. But I cannot envision a time when I’m not trying to teach someone something about God. I’ll never stop because the Gospel of Jesus Christ confronts me and compels me to make His love first and forever on my heart and lips. How about you? What’s in your future?