Publication: Pastoral Letter, May 2001
Dear Friend in Christ:
The question I want to ask in this letter is, “How can we build lives that will affect history? To answer that question I will turn our attention to Jesus Christ.
Jesus was unique in nature, authority, and power. Yet, He became like us in every way_except that He was without sin. His mission to earth was to redeem us from sin, its consequences, and to bring us into relationship with the Father and His purpose.
“Why,” one might ask, “would Jesus become involved with wicked humanity, who would eventually crucify Him?” David, in Psalm 8, and the writer of Hebrews 2 ask the same question: “What is man that you are concerned with him?” The answer is not in who we are, but who He is.
Hebrews 2:10 says that He suffered in order to bring many sons to glory. Jesus could have made history by just appearing on earth. But He went far beyond that; He made history makers. He took men and women from the ranks of the ordinary and showed them how to shape history. He was so effective in that purpose, that we date history from the day of His appearance on the world stage.
We could well ask ourselves if we intend to affect history or merely survive it? Will we be content to float like debris on the backwaters, or will we be in the powerful flow of His purpose?
History is not random. Causeless existence is both irrational and a cosmic waste. It makes as much sense as parts in a jar, shaken until a Rolex falls out.
History is created by the Creator’s cause. What we see around us either just happened,” or it was created for a cause. Our task is to discover and steward that cause.
Jesus is the embodiment of that cause. His claim and His followers’ testimony is that He is the Creator, Word made flesh. He also claims to be the Alpha and the Omega, the sustainer of history.
Jesus makes history through His choice of people. History is the result of people’s actions; he chooses people to cause events.
Jesus’ chosen people will wash away the footprints of Satan’s impostors, such as Jezebel, Nero, Hitler, and others like them.
Jesus has called all of us to make history in someone’s life.
JESUS, HISTORY MAKER
Jesus gathered large crowds, but He wasn’t content to entertain the curiosity of His congregation. He was not here to build His ego. Paul describes Jesus as the Image of the Invisible God, the Firstborn of all creation, the Creator, Sustainer, Head of the Church, Firstborn from the dead, the Fullness of God, the Reconciler of man to God, the Pre-eminent One, the One by Whom and for Whom all things exist.
Jesus is the eternal, unchanging, absolute truth. He is heaven’s plumbline, dropped into earth’s perversion. He is the revelation of the Father. He faced and conquered our greatest enemies – sin and death. He paid our debt and gave us His inheritance. His entrance into our world was history’s most grandly significant event. His entrance was the flower of eternal purpose, whose fragrance will saturate hearts at the ends of the earth.
Jesus did not come to entertain us. He came here on business!
JESUS, MAKER OF HISTORY MAKERS
Jesus made history, but He went beyond that to make history-makers. And those are the ones who testify to His authenticity. Wisdom is justified by its children. Those that He called to be with Him and that He sent out, extended the radiance of His glory to nations. It was in their hands that His seed was multiplied.
Peter, James, John, Mary, Martha, and Matthew were ordinary people who were swept up into the grand plan. It was not simply that they “enjoyed Jesus;” they became employed by Jesus. Through “ordinary” people like this, He touched the world. These people were bridges for truth by which Jesus reached nations and successive generations. They were bridges well-built!
As Hebrews 2:10 says, “He brought many sons to glory.” His mission was not about Himself; it was about them and those they would reach. Their success is proof of His success. They laid the foundations for evangelizing their part of the world, which spread to Europe and the West, and set the platform for the current world evangelization.
JESUS THE PATTERN
While we worship Jesus, we often ignore His methods. In 1964, I went with a friend to Pensacola, Florida, to pray through the night with another friend, Ken Sumrall. We had fasted in expectation of some exciting new word from the Lord. But through the night there was no word.
Finally in the early morning hours, the Lord spoke to me on this order, “It is all in Jesus; He is Alpha and Omega, the Fullness of God, the Treasure of God_it’s all in Him.”
My first impression was, “Of course, I know that.” But as I drove home I meditated on that word – there were no other “words” to dwell on. As the years have passed, I have realized several implications of that profound truth. Jesus is not only the Source and Sustainer of life, but He is the perfect pattern. That is the most radical of revelations.
The Church is casting about for models, and there are many. Much of the Church has been powerfully influenced by agendas foreign to the Gospel. Other parts of the church have satisfied themselves to merely entertain.
What does it mean to believe that Jesus is the pattern for making history makers? Here are some observations that we might make concerning Jesus’ approach to people:
- Jesus was more concerned with life than forms and structures.
- Jesus was more concerned with internal issues rather than external issues.
- Jesus was more concerned with imparting than informing.
- Jesus was more concerned with mercy than judgment.
- Jesus was more concerned with individuals than crowds.
Jesus was not only concerned with mankind, but with specific people. He not only looked at them, but into them (see Isaiah 11:3 and John 1:47). He saw them one at a time. He could hear one voice in a crowd. He could feel one touch when touched by many. Salvation was and is in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Some leaders are great in large groups, but fail miserably in personal relationships. Jesus likened Himself to a Good Shepherd who knew His sheep by name. Jesus did not relate to His disciples as a group, but He called them individually, and they individually knew and related to Him. He practiced in particular what He preached in general.
It was His personal touch that imparted life and destiny. Even as He died between two thieves, He ushered one into Paradise. We must not allow His business to become a factory for mass producing impersonal and uninvolved Christians. The Church cannot become an “operation.” It must reach multitudes without losing the personal touch that turns mere converts into history makers.
In the early 1970s, I was with 5 or 6 friends sailing out in the Gulf of Mexico. My thoughts turned to Jesus and His disciples and their boating experiences. It was a Saturday morning. This question came to my mind and I asked them, “Which is more like what Jesus did with His disciples, what we are doing this morning, or what we will do tomorrow morning at church?” We laughed as we realized that being together out on the water would be a normal experience for them.
Then I asked a second question, “What is more like the Pharisees did…what we are doing this morning, or what we will do tomorrow morning?” This time we all laughed rather nervously because we could not picture a Pharisee out sailing. Let me hasten to add that we all attended church and still do. In fact, several of these men are ministers. But we were beginning to realize that God wants to bring us into fellowship with Him and each other.
Jesus was comfortable in everyday situations: parties, fishing, eating, and being with people. That is where ministry took place; that is how he turned ordinary people into history makers, and that is how He affected the world.
If we cannot affect one person, how could we possibly affect mankind? And when we have affected one person, we have, in a way, affected mankind. We have at least affected their history! Any brand of Christianity that functions only in the sterile confines of a building is less than enough to affect the world – and certainly less than biblical.
Because He touched these disciples at their deepest personal level, and because they knew Him in all situations, He made them history makers. Now, it is our turn.
P.S. Please continue to support CSM in your prayers and in your giving. This is a lean season for us financially, but when you stand with us, you equip us to “affect the people who affect the world.” Thank you!
Scripture Reference: Psalms, Hebrews