When we were outside just before nap a couple of days ago, the kids went behind the back garage. This is sort of a no, no place as we never know what is hiding back there (animals, poison ivy, etc). The kids were only back there for a second when I hear Reece say "mommy, come here...we found something...we wanna show you you something". When I got back there Reece says "look...there's a bird here. I think he's dead but I touched him". I came up slowly and could tell the bird was breathing but he had his head tucked under him. I poked him gently with a stick and he picked up his head. His beak was caught in his foot somehow and his wing appeard to be broken. Seeing us, he frantically moved about until his beak was loosened. He took a couple of steps and flew into the tree. Reece say "Look, he's not dead...he's alive! We saved him!"
Yesterday, we decided to go back and see if we could find the bird again. We wanted to be sure he was okay. We went back and looked around for a long time and we couldn't find him. We assume he is okay but we just don't know.
It reminded me of how we as Christains want to "save" the people in our lives and check it off our list. We rarely go back and check on them and see how they are living their lives...this thing called discipleship that I have been talking about. In cetain situations, this won't be able to happen. We talked to someone at the grocery store but we didn't get their name and number. We have to be okay with being a planter of the seed and know that God will bring others into their lives to help them grow. We can't help "grow" everyone but we should attempt to disciple the ones that we do know where they are (where they live, work, etc). "Saving" someone isn't just a task on our "to-do" list. But how many of us have been told or heard that all that is required is a one-time decision? And then at that point we have our ticket to heaven and can live how we want on earth and it will be tolerated and forgiven along the way? I know that is always the way I understood it. The bible says we are not just saved to be forgiven of our sins and enter eternity in heaven, but we are saved to know God. David Platt talks in his book "Radical" about disinfecting people as opposed to discipling them. David says (the next several paragraphs are all quotes)
"Disinfecting Christians from the world involves isolating followers of Christ in a spiritual safe-deposit box called the church building and teaching them to be good. In this strategy, success in the chruch is defined by how big a building you have to house all the Christians, and the goal is to gather as many people as possible for a couple of hours each week in that place where we are isolated and insulaterd from the realities of the world around us. When someone asks, "Where is your church?" we point them to a building or give them an address, and everything centers around what happens at that location.
When we gather at the building, we learn to be good. Being good is defined by what we avoid in the world. We are holy because of what we don't participate in (and at this point we may be the only organization in the world defining success by what we don't do). We live decent lives in decent homes with decent jobs and decent families as decent citizens. We are decent church menbers with little more impact on the world than we had before we were saved. Though thousands may join us, ultimately we have turned a deaf ear to billions who haven't even heard his name.
Discipling is much different.
Whearas disinfecting Chiristians involves isolating them and teaching them to be good, discipling Christians involves propelling Christiains into the world to risk their lives for the sake of others. Now the world is our focus, and we guage success in the church on the hundreds or thousands who are leaving our buildings to take on the world with the disciples they are making. In this case, we would never think that the disciple-making plan of Jesus could take place in one service a week at one location led by one or two teachers. Disciple making takes place multiple times every week in multiple locations by an army of men and women sharing, showing, and teach the Word of Christ and together serving a world in need of Christ.
All of a sudden, holiness is defined by what we do. We are now a community of fatih taking Jesus at his word and following His plan, even when it does not make sense to the culture around us and even when it costs us.
In the process we are realizing that we actually were intended to reach the world for the glory of Christ, and we are discovering that the purpose for which we were created is accessible to everyone of us...A community of Christians each multiplying the gospel by going, baptizing, and teaching the contexts where they live every day. Is anything else, according to the Bible, even considered a church?"
Wow! I have never heard it said like that in all of my life. I know it was a long quote but it is way to powerful to keep to myself. So how about you? Are you disinfecting or discipling? Are you helping others to fly and to keep flying? You never know how you could be a blessing to someone by just checking in...they might be tangled in their feet....their wing might be broken. But you are not there just to "save" them from that mess...you are there to get them on their feet, help them fly, and help them multiply!
"He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths will grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint" Isaiah 40: 29-31