Reaching the world for Jesus is a pillar of Christianity. This is our Great Commission. We love hearing about the large numbers of people who surrender their lives to Jesus at packed Easter services, conferences, and Christian events. The trouble is that too often seems to be the end of our interest in the faith journey of others.
We celebrate conversion by the masses because it appears to be an indicator of our shared success in fulfilling the Great Commission. There’s a lot of excitement in reaching unbelievers, which isn’t a bad thing.
But the issue is when we boil down our role of engaging others with the gospel as being the people who simply “invite.” Our churches, denominations, and leaders have often pushed us to “just invite one” and conveyed they will do the rest.
When we only see our role in the faith journey of another as the “inviter,” we set ourselves free of much of what the Great Commission is really calling us to. It is our faith that unites us to other believers. We ought to be tethered together, invested in each other’s lives, and care for the faith of one another further than our conversion stories.
Caring about the souls of others is about more than inviting others to church services, events, and conferences. Our care for the faith of others shouldn’t end when they proclaim faith in Jesus. This is part of the journey, certainly, but it continues on past conversion. It simply isn’t enough to see your role in the faith of others as fulfilled when you invite them to the Christian event and then pass them over to the ones who have a “call for ministry.”
Caring for the faith of others was never meant to be reduced to an assembly line. As efficient as this is to mass produce cars it’s a terrible way to interact with people wrestling with their faith.
The truth of the matter is that being part of the faith journey of another is hard. Jesus chose to work through humans to show who he is, to unite them together, and to grow them. That means that we have to stop viewing the faith of another as purely between them and God. We have to be willing to be used by God in the faith of another.
That’s how God has chosen to work since the very beginning, even though it tends to be a lot more messy than we’d like.
The Great Commission Doesn’t Take Us on a Linear Path.
One of the most challenging questions on every Christian-based job application is, “Share about your coming to faith story.”
Even as someone who grew up in the church, and has served on countless ministry teams, studied theology, and participated in just about every church function you can think of, this question still makes me nervous. It would take me multiple pages to share my coming to faith story, because there’s no specific date or singular event that I can point to expressing I crossed from unbeliever to believer.
I know there are some who have experienced something commonly described as a “Paul conversion.” God intersected his life in a miraculous way, he abandoned all of his former life, and gave his life to Jesus all in one day.
I think the majority of American Christians can relate to Jesus’ disciples. It’s unclear when they really truly understood and believed that Jesus was who he said he was. Jesus spent much of his time with them reiterating what he had been telling them since they met.
Even when they got it, they still didn’t really get it. Peter tells Jesus he believes he is the holy one of God (John 6:66), but then denies he ever knew Jesus (Luke 22:54-62). It would be difficult to outline the faith journey of many of the disciples, at least in a linear way like Paul.