Christians Are Called To Be Great (Part 4)

Christians Are Called To Be Great (Part 4)

Christians are called to be great. Although, maybe you don’t think you’re one of the great ones. Maybe you do. Either way, this message is for you.

One of the most damaging, disastrous failings of the church in our age is that you and I, “ordinary Christians,” have not responded to God’s call to be great.

Discovering Our Sphere of Impact

How then can we know whether we’re called to be great in this sense? It’s not that difficult. First, we need to recall the other kind of greatness that we alluded to at the beginning. Greatness starts with a deep relationship with God. It starts in knowing his will as revealed in Scripture, seeking his face and his guidance daily, and knowing the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It certainly includes knowing what true humility is all about.

We each have a great sphere of influence

It may be narrow or broad. But it’s where we begin, by seeking to have maximum impact where we can already. We have our talents in hand from the master, and we can see what return we can bring him from them.

Third, we can explore the edges of that circle, to see how our influence can expand. We can risk going out on a limb, impacting a wider group of people, studying and learning to expand our capabilities, trying new things to multiply our influence. Christ taught us that the one who is faithful in a little will be entrusted with much. Starting where we are and walking by faith, there’s no telling how much God will lead us to do for him.

In seeking to expand our great impact…

It’s wise to seek depth before breadth: to do one thing well before attempting many, to influence one person deeply before trying to lead a crowd. Doing “one thing well”–or many things, for that matter–involves knowing how God has gifted us and putting our focus in those areas. Our gifts are a great clue to our calling.

Finding Great Encouragement

We can profit from the encouragement of a community of brothers and sisters who are committed to the same things. It’s hard to go it alone; together, though, we can burn brightly for God. Going for greatness often means hard word and risks, both of which are much easier when someone is standing at your side to encourage. It may be that the first step into the edge of your circle would be to gather a group like this. It’s not just a Bible study, not just an accountability group; it’s an action/encouragement group.

Recovering Greatness for God’s Glory

Can we revive a true understanding of greatness? In seeking God’s glory alone, can we seek it in the widest, deepest, most influential, most thrilling way? What can hold us back, if we just seek to know and to go and do what God has sent us to do? Let’s put aside weakness masquerading as humility. Lay aside fear and take up faith and courage instead. Choose to be as great as God has called us to be, for his glory to shine brightly and widely. 

About:

Tom Gilson is senior editor and columnist with The Stream. He’s published over 700 articles and several books including his most recent, Too Good to Be False.

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And I’ll send you my article: Exaggerate to Make Your Presentations Funny. You’ll learn how to punch up your presentations with humor.

Christians Are Called To Be Great (Part 4)

Christians Are Called To Be Great (Part 3)

Christians are called to be great. Although, maybe you don’t think you’re one of the great ones. Maybe you do. Either way, this message is for you.

One of the most damaging, disastrous failings of the church in our age is that you and I, “ordinary Christians,” have not responded to God’s call to be great.

Called To Be Great Means Humble, Not Puny

God calls us to be humble, not to be puny. When Jesus rebuked the disciples for jockeying for position in his kingdom, he invited them at the same time to greatness, as long as it was greatness on the right terms: “Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave” (Matthew 20:26b27).

What God Chooses

God chooses public greatness (church-wide, community-wide, or even broader in scope) for certain people and not for others. But I fear there are many that God has called who don’t listen, trust and obey. Some could be great for God, legitimately called by him, but turned their back on it.

This is a great loss to the kingdom of God. A burying of talents that God rebukes. To be great in following what God calls us to requires humility and obedience.

Called To Be Great Means Ready To Pay The Price

We can learn about greatness from John the Baptist from the account in Luke. It uncovers the second chief reason many fearfully approach the topic of greatness. I think it often explains the shrinking from the greatness God call us to:

Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father.” For I tell you that God is able to raise up children of Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?”

He answered

“He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.” Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.” Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.” And with many other exhortations he preached to the people. But Herod the tetrarch, being rebuked by John concerning Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife and for all the evils which Herod had done, also added this, above all, that he shut John up in prison (Luke 3: 7-1418-20 NKJV).

John stirred things up a great deal. He paid a price for it in the end. (Jesus himself did the same, even more so.) But John knew what he was called to do, which included agitating for change in a corrupt culture. Some responded gladly. The king, however, threw him in prison, and later had him executed.

Greatness pays a price. Even “successful” greatness–such as the greatness of Daniel, of Joseph, of many others in our day who see great fruit. Like in churches, mission agencies, government, and military. There’s a price of long hours, much opposition, deep concerns, many pains.

Called To Be Great Means Trusting in God

I think I have too often refused to step toward greatness because of fear: fear of stirring people up, fear of being branded, fear of having to give up the easy way.

I lost the thrilling opportunity to see what God could do through me if I followed him wherever he led. And also, the glory of God, which I could have shared in the wider world, was hidden like a light under a bushel.

Following John’s great example

The desert example of John the Baptist is a hard one to follow. God does not call many to make a solitary stand for him in that way. But He does call us individually to follow him wherever he leads; that is a decision we each make for ourselves.

From there, though, most of us will find opportunities to follow God into greatness by doing it with teams of brothers and sisters in Christ. Oh, for communities of faith that are determined to change their cities, their world! To join a band of believers who charge the enemy’s ground and take it back for Jesus Christ!

About:

Tom Gilson is senior editor and columnist with The Stream. He’s published over 700 articles and several books including his most recent, Too Good to Be False.

Join My E-mail List

And I’ll send you my article: Exaggerate to Make Your Presentations Funny. You’ll learn how to punch up your presentations with humor.

Christians Are Called To Be Great (Part 4)

Christians Are Called To Be Great (Part 2)

Christians are called to be great. Although, maybe you don’t think you’re one of the great ones. Maybe you do. Either way, this message is for you.

One of the most damaging, disastrous failings of the church in our age is that you and I, “ordinary Christians,” have not responded to God’s call to be great.

John the Baptist: Great in Humility, Humble in Greatness

Consider the amazing humility, yet boldness, of John the Baptist, as seen in John 1. Here is humility personified. “I baptize with water,” he says, “but there stands One among you whom you do not know. It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose” (John 1:26b27).

This is the man who clothed himself in goatskins, who ate locusts and wild honey, who eagerly turned over all his followers to Christ when he arrived on the scene, one who gladly said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).

How then could he say what he said about himself? You may not have noticed it; it’s easy to miss from our distance. Here’s the scene: The Jewish leaders had sent messengers to ask him who he was and how he claimed the authority to baptize, that is, to establish a prominent new religious movement outside of their authority.

They asked Him if he was the Christ, or Elijah, or the Prophet (the one predicted very early by Moses) and he denied them all. So they said, “then who are you?”

How John answered when called to be great

His answer: “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said” (John 1:23). Let me paraphrase that to give you a clearer sense of what his listeners heard when he said that. John’s answer to their question was, “I am one of the three or four most important people in the history of this nation!”

This messenger was one of the most anxiously awaited people in all of prophecy, second only to the Messiah he would herald. When John claimed that identity, he took the title of one for whom Israel had been waiting for 700 years! John claimed greatness in high degree.

Called To Be Great And Sent From God

This is humility. It’s humility of a kind we seldom see, though. The explanation is in a simple statement in verse 6: “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.” John was sent by God; he was simply doing what he was told to do, and he was doing it for the glory of God, whom he constantly lifted up in the person of Jesus Christ. John was both humble and great at the same time.

There are many such examples in the Bible. Isaiah’s response when he saw the Lord was, “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts” (Is. 6:5). Yet when God asked, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” he said, “Here am I! Send me” (v. 8). He humbly confessed his unworthiness, he accepted his call, and he went on to a career that changed kings and kingdoms.

Called To Be Great

God chooses who may have greatness of impact or leadership. Our part is to recognize what God has called us to, to trust in him to accomplish it through us, and to direct all glory to Jesus Christ. Indeed, this is the greatness of spirit that all of us are called to seek. In some people, however, it will produce more widely visible fruit than others. This is the choice of God.

God gives some of us more opportunity than others. In Matthew 25:14-30, one man received five talents, one received two, and another only one. The ones who received five and two brought a return to their master of five and two respectively.

Even though the second one brought back less than half than the first, he received the same commendation: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” The exact same words are used in both Matthew 25:21 and 25:23.

Called to great is both leading and following

Those who are not asked to enter leadership of widespread impact are no less of value to God than those who are, and they are expected to be faithful with what they are given. The one who received just one talent brought nothing back with it; he was the one who was censured. His lack of understanding of his master, his lack of faith, and his fear caused him to end with disapproval.

God chooses leaders according to his own will. We see this throughout the Bible, beginning with Abraham, continuing through many others like Moses, David, Esther, Mary, the twelve, and Paul.

What these men and women shared in common was the calling of God and their response of humility, faith, and obedience; and also that their lives made a great deal of difference in the world.

About:

Tom Gilson is senior editor and columnist with The Stream. He’s published over 700 articles and several books including his most recent, Too Good to Be False.

Join My E-mail List

And I’ll send you my article: Exaggerate to Make Your Presentations Funny. You’ll learn how to punch up your presentations with humor.