Tag Archive: evangelist


Excerpt from Erwin McManus ‘an unstoppable force’ (available from Loot – http://www.loot.co.za/refer.html?referrer=85894849355 – for R170)

[continued]

HOW MANY TIMES DOES HE HAVE TO CALL?

Why are there so many levels of Christian calling in our contemporary Christian community? Where are they found in the Biblical text? I have a strange suspicion that the nuances of these “callings” have less to do with theology and more to do with the condition of the church.

Paul seemed to think that there was one calling. He writes to Timothy, “So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace.” (2 Timothy 1.8-9a)

The Scriptures seem to simplify the process of calling. The one call is to lay your life at the feet of Jesus and to do whatever He asks. It is a calling that says “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1.21). It is a calling that declares, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the  body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2.20) It is the calling that challenges us to make ourselves a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, that we may know and do His will.

An honest evaluation of the dramatic number of callings that the church has created would reveal that we have found extraordinary ways of describing the overwhelming amount of Christless living in the church. If we got the first calling right, would any of these other callings be necessary?

Jesus said, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” He did not say, “Believe in Me so that you can go to heaven.” In fact, He lays down extraordinary criteria. He said, “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me.” He expands by saying, “Unless you hate your father and mother, your brother and sisters, your wife and children, yes even your own life, you cannot be my disciple.” He is emphatic in the condition that unless we deny ourselves, we cannot be His disciples. He describes the response to His calling as the end of ourselves. If we try to save our lives, we will lose them. But if we lose our lives for His sake, we will find life.

LET’S CALL IT WHAT IT IS

What we now consider to be the highest level of calling in the Christian community was, for Jesus, the basic entry point. It was to the whole church that Jesus said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything” (Matthew 28.19-20a). It was to the whole church that Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1.8).

In the process of creating a theology that accommodates apathy, disinterest, compromise, and even rebellion, we have lost the essence of the movement for which Jesus died. We made a mistake of making heroes out of those who were simply living a normal Christian life. There may be no more significant ingredient to the apostolic ethos than establishing a radical minimum standard. The gatekeepers for our culture are not the heroes or supermen, but the common person. The individuals who represent the ideal inspire masses to pursue the values and virtues of their people; but it is the common person within each society who establishes the boundaries that are required to remain a part of the clan. It is not the extraordinary standard but the minimum standard that is the critical boundary in shaping a culture. To unleash an apostolic ethos, it is essential to establish a radical minimum standard.

It’s easy to confuse the minimum with the extraordinary. We do it all the time. In fact, organisations continuously face that crisis. Whenever someone fails to live up to an understood expectation, we are forced to make some kind of re-evaluation. Either our standard should change or our actions have to change.

When we live below a standard, it is simply human nature to redefine the standard as unreasonable and establish standards which that our patterns are already accomplishing. We keep lowering the bar until we clear it…

[to be continued]

Excerpt from Erwin McManus ‘an unstoppable force’ (available from Loot – http://www.loot.co.za/refer.html?referrer=85894849355 – for R170)

Wow this last chapter of the EM book i’ve been reading resonated so hugely with my spirit i had to share (go and buy the book!):

A RADICAL MINIMUM STANDARD

On August 20, 1978, I walked to the altar at the first Baptist Church in Orlando, Florida and gave my life to Jesus Christ as my Lord. I remember standing there, looking up at Jim Henry, the pastor of the congregation, as he held his Bible and asked the question, “Do you confess Jesus as Lord, and will you obey His Word?”

I have to admit that, at that moment, I had virtually no idea what was inside the Bible other than what I had learned from Brother Jim’s preaching. It could have been a copy of ‘War and Peace.’ It could have been a leather-bound version of ‘Winnie-the-Pooh,’ but I figured if it was connected to Jesus and affirmed by this people I had come to trust, it was good enough for me. I was genuinely a blank slate to the whole process of what it meant to be a Christian. Soon I discovered that I had a terrible misconception of what I had done on that Sunday night.

After I left Orlando and returned to college, i ran head-on into a layered view of Christianity. I began learning that it was necessary to not only receive Jesus as your Saviour, but also to accept Him as your Lord. I learned this not only through osmosis, but also through listening carefully to Christian vernacular from people who claimed to be Christians, yet who somehow lived extraordinarily worldly lives. It was explained to me that these people had Jesus as Savious but not as Lord.

Another misconception I had was that every Christian was called to proclaim the Gospel. I remember coming home from college around Thanksgiving and sitting in a room with a bunch of guys. I pondered aloud about how amazing g it would be when all of us ended up all over the world, telling people about Jesus. Everyone else in the room proceeded to tell me that they did not feel called to “preach the Gospel.” They explained to me that required a “unique” calling.

So now I had discovered that there were at least three callings: a calling to be saved, a calling to Lordship, and a calling to ministry. Again, this concept was confirmed by simple observation. There were all kinds of Christians who were not involved in ministry. In fact, in most places only the pastor seemed to do ministry. Sometimes his wife would, but not always. Ministry was what pastors did in relationship to their congregations. If you were called to the ministry, then your focus was to care for and nurture the Christians in your congregation.

Later I discovered there was even a higher level of calling. At a missions conference the speaker began inviting people to give their lives to missions. I was somewhat confused since I was still a new Christian. I asked the person next to me what the invitation was specifically asking for. She said, “If you feel that God is calling you to missions, to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world, then you’re supposed to go forward.” I went forward again.

This was my third calling. I went forward for the purpose of salvation, I went forward to respond to a call to full-time ministry, and now I was going forward in response to a call to be a missionary. But this time I discovered that there were two levels of missionary calling. One was to be a home missionary and one was to be a foreign missionary.

So now I had discovered five levels of calling from God – a calling to be saved, a calling for Jesus to be Lord, a calling to ministry, a calling to home missions, and a calling to foreign missions. These five levels of calling don’t even take into consideration my conversation with someone from the Church of God of Prophesy in which I was told about my need to be sanctified. They don’t take into account my engagements in the charismatic community, where it was explained to me that I needed to receive a second baptism…

[to be continued]

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