Previously published on June 7, 2016 in another location
The world recently mourned the passing of Muhammad Ali, who is considered one of the greatest boxers of all time, if not the greatest boxer of all time. At the very least, we know that Ali considered himself the greatest, if you don’t believe me, watch the video below and ask him for yourself.
Now, I want to ask the question, “Are you a great fighter?”
We are all fighting for something. Which means that we are also fighting against something. Any time you choose to devote yourself to something, you are fighting for that thing. When you devote yourself to something, you are saying “yes” to that thing. And every time you say “yes” to something, you are saying “no” to something else.
I believe that most people who call themselves Christians most of the time do not fight in a conscious state. I mean that Christians simply live their lives, saying “yes” to some things and “no” to other things without ever really asking “why?” Most of us simply don’t sit still long enough to consider if we are fighting the right fight, on the right side, according to God’s will for our lives.
1 Timothy 2:4 says that God “desires all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
Boom. There it is. There you have the answer to the most pressing question every Christian asks: “What is God’s will?”
We too often cripple ourselves trying to ask this question in the wrong way. We get caught up in details, getting angry with God because he won’t tell us the next step in our lives or when he won’t give answers to our pointed questions.
But, God has made his will crystal clear. His will is for lost people to be saved.
So, God’s will for your life is that you live your life to see people be saved. The details of your life really aren’t that important. Sorry, they’re just not. God will take care of the details, just trust him. Just fully take hold of what he has made clear: His will for your life is that you live to make disciples.
God desires for all people to be saved. God decided to use Christians in his plan to save people. God has commanded you to spend your life making disciples. Period. No wiggling out of this one. Either you obey or you disobey. No Christian is excluded from this. If you think you can just call yourself a Christian but not be a disciple-maker, then you’re deceived. Wake up. Actually read what Jesus said and get on board with what he wants for your life.
So, are you fighting the right fight?
In other words, Are you making disciples?
Are people getting saved through your disciple-making efforts? Are believers becoming more like Christ through your disciple making efforts?
If not, then I’d bet my car that you’re probably fighting against God instead of for God.
Here’s some scary logic to consider:
God’s will is for all people to be saved.
God is sovereign and able to accomplish his will as he sees fit.
If people are not being saved through our efforts.
Then we must be fighting against God’s will.
If God’s desire is for people to be saved, and if our church is not seeing people get saved, then we must not be working with God. We need to take a deep look in the mirror and see what idols we have allowed to slip in and take priority over the Great Commission.
Simply put: If people are not being saved through our church, then it is OUR fault. God is able to do whatever he pleases, yet he has decided to accomplish his mission of saving the lost through US. So if we are not seeing people saved, then we are not working according to God’s desires. We are not co-laboring with God in his endeavor to see lost people saved. God will not bless our disobedience. In fact, I believe that God often sends trials to break us in our disobedience to lead us to repentance.
We have to be willing to do whatever it takes to obey Christ’s Great Commission. If anything is hindering us from impacting lostness, then we must change it or remove it. If we are missing something necessary for disciple-making, then we must be willing to add new things. If we are failing to speak the gospel in the cultural language of the people around us, then we must be willing to learn a new language.
If there is anything that we are unwilling to give up for the sake of the lost, the we are idolaters and are living in disobedience to God.
I believe that 1 Timothy 2:4 should provide us with great confidence. God desires to save the lost. God is working in the world for the purpose of saving the lost. This means that we are not alone in our efforts to make disciples. God wills and God works to save the lost. Our job is simply to work with him according to his will.
I love being in the middle of a river fly-fishing. There is nothing that helps me to clear my mind better than fly-fishing. Here’s something I’ve learned from fishing: It is much easier to walk with the flow of the river than it is to walk against the flow of the river. It’s also easier to float down the river than it is to stand still against the current.
Why do churches plateau, stagnate, and fail to grow? Why do churches lose people?
Because those churches are either trying to stand still against the current or they’re trying to walk against the current.
God desires to SAVE THE LOST. I’ve repeated myself so many times, and I’ll repeat myself again: God desires to SAVE THE LOST.
Disciple-making is what God is working for in the world. In 1 Tim 2:4, God shows us the contents of his heart! God’s heart beats for the nations! God’s heart beats to see the lost people saved and to become disciples of Jesus.
So, if your heart does not beat for that same thing, then you are FIGHTING AGAINST GOD!
Now, it is easy to give lip-service to this. It’s easy to say, “I love Jesus and I am living to make disciples.” But, if there is no fruit in your life to back up what you’re saying, then you’re just lying. You’re just fooling yourself. But you won’t fool God.
If you really want to see the church grow, then start fighting on God’s side and not against him.
Here is some really hopeful logic:
God desires for lost people to be saved.
If we work and pray according to God’s desires,
he will work through us, and lost people will be saved.
It’s easy to overthink church growth strategy. In reality, church growth is pretty simple: work with God to accomplish his will.
But simple does not mean easy. Our sinful flesh makes us want to stand in the middle of the river or even try to walk up stream. Our flesh makes us cling to our own preferences. Our flesh makes us love ourselves more than God. Our flesh leads us to place our own preferences and comfort at a higher priority than the eternal status of lost people. Are we willing, for the sake of our own traditions, to let the thousands of lost people around us to spend an eternity of torment in hell? Seriously? We make a big deal out of so many things that are simply not a big deal.
If you have made a big deal out of anything other than the gospel, then you are fighting against God. So I say this with love: Get over it.
Spend enough time with Jesus so that his desires will become your desires. Let him change your heart and align your heart with his plan for the universe. Be willing to change. When he points out an idol, surrender it. Give it up. Otherwise, you will live your life trying to swim upstream or stand in the middle of a current. Do not waste your life by fighting against God’s will.
Here are a few signs that you may be fighting against God:
I look at lost people with judgement instead of compassion and grace.
I never share the gospel with people.
I do not spend much time with Jesus.
I determine if something is good based on my own opinion instead of God’s Word.
I do not spend time praying for lost people.
I would rather my church stay the same size.
I get mad when people try to change things about my church.
Here is the sign that you are fighting with God.
You will do anything or give up anything to see lost people saved and to help them become mature disciples of Jesus.
So, what is YOUR greatest desire? If your greatest desire is not for people to be saved, then your heart is not in line with God’s. You are fighting against God, which is never a good idea. He really is ‘the greatest.’
God desires to save the lost. He is able to save the lost. He has called us to have a part in reaching the lost. If we will work according to his desires, he will use us to reach the lost! What a glorious truth. What a glorious life: to make your life count for God’s eternal purpose.