Welcome to The Daily Prayer Team messages, each day includes a passage of scripture, a reflection and a prayer. Sponsored by Saint John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations. Matthew 24:14
In the Protestant Church, the words “discipleship” and “evangelism” are words that everyone knows. There is even a verb “to disciple”, which describes a concerted effort by the church to “disciple” or “make disciples” of people who are not, doing exactly the thing that Jesus did when He went and personally and purposefully called the fishermen to follow Him.
We’ve all had the experience of Jehovah Witnesses or Mormons coming to our door and handing out information about their church. I’ve come home many times and found a flyer on my door for the latest church that is opening up at the school down the street. And I’m not suggesting for a moment that we do either of these things.
However, I do know that in the parish where I serve, we have no issue putting up signs on our lawns and business inviting people to the Greek Festival. Why wouldn’t we consider putting out a sign inviting people to our church? Would that be offensive? Just a thought.
Christ never told us to be timid when it came to our Christianity. Telling us to preach the Gospel to all nations is like the modern phrase “go big or go home.” To go to church for our entire life, to say that the faith is the center of our life, the most important thing we have, our greatest joy, and then to tell absolutely no one about it, seems to be a conflict in terms. Indeed, in this unit on bridging gaps, perhaps this is the biggest one of all.
Evangelism and discipleship are responsibilities of all Christians, not just the clergy. Someone recently told me “You are paid to find the people.” To which I replied, “I’m paid to lead the people to Christ—it’s the ‘job’ of everyone to find the people.” Again, this goes back to our baptisms, when the Great Commission was read over every person who got baptized. If every person brings one person to the Lord, that doubles the size of a church. Does the idea of bringing one person to Christ for our entire LIFE seem like daunting task?
I love that Jesus chose fishermen to be His disciples. Because for anyone who has ever fished, and even for people who fish a lot, there is a lot of failure when it comes to fishing. One does not get a bite on every cast. There might be an entire day of fishing, casting the line dozens of times, that will result in no fish being caught. What keeps the fisherman casting? The time when one will bite. There are lots of people who are looking for Christ, they just don’t know it. There are lots of people who are lost in life and when they find Christ, they will find their true direction and purpose. There are lots of people who are fearful about the end of life. When they find Christ they will be comforted and inspired. If you invite one person a year to Christ, let’s say fifty over the course of your life, you are almost certain to get at least one bite. And if Christ rewards according to effort, not results, certainly an effort to cast the net fifty times will be pleasing to Him.
Most people do not think regularly about growing the Church. To the contrary, many people don’t want their church to grow, because then they might lose their seat, or there might be a new person in leadership, or they don’t want to go in the hall and not recognize anyone. I remember years ago when someone on the parish council, of all people, told me “Father, we are growing too fast and you are doing too much for the youth!” I can’t think of a more ignorant statement, and yet there are many people who agreed with him.
Making disciples and spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ are the one and only thing Christ commissioned us to do. We might build an elaborate church, or even make a big donation. However, the church is about the people. The Body of Christ, the Church, is the people. And the Lord will ask each of us, what did we do, what did YOU do, to spread the Gospel to the people?
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face to shine upon us, that Thy way may be known upon earth, Thy saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise Thee, O God; let all the peoples praise Thee! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for Thou dost judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Let the peoples praise Thee, O God; let all the peoples praise Thee! The earth has yielded its increase; God our God, has blessed us. God has blessed us; let all the ends of the earth fear Him! Psalm 67
Discipleship and evangelism are the responsibilities of all the people!
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
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