By James Kurtz, Global Outreach Commission member
The call to mission is utterly ridiculous. It’s absurd to leave the known, give up hopes and dreams, reject our individuality, and dive headlong into the unknown, fully aware that doing so is likely to cause serious injury or death. However, this profoundly unappealing benefits package comes from Jesus himself telling his disciples what to expect as their daily existence should they follow him. But this expectance extends beyond the Twelve. Church history proves the warnings warranted from its earliest moments, such that Paul, Peter, John, and Jude all remind us that persecution is worthwhile.
“All to Jesus, I surrender; all to him I freely give,”
For each of us who wants to follow Jesus, this calling to ridiculous levels of obedience still applies. It’s a call to joyfully sing, “All to Jesus, I surrender; all to him I freely give,” without feigning sincerity or deluding ourselves into believing that the conceded scrap of our heart somehow counts as the whole.
Speaking personally, I don’t think I’m capable of this total and unconditional surrender myself. I have too much invested in my career and in my dreams. And yet, true love of and for God causes us to keep his commandments obediently. That sort of true love, necessarily deeper than the Princess Bride version, requires concerted and intentional effort. Jesus knew this would be a hefty challenge, so he promised the Helper, who will be with us forever.
In three weeks, the Christian Church celebrates the delivery of our Helper with Pentecost Sunday. We’re joining that celebration by introducing a new Global Outreach Conference. Several of our Global Partners who have learned to surrender in obvious and ridiculous ways will join us, including Matt M., who will preach Sunday morning.
Matt serves as a doctor among a least-reached people with his wife, Tara, in West Africa. Their work palpably relies on the work of the Spirit to bring healing, both physically and spiritually. In a nation where Christianity is a tiny minority, many will never hear the name of Jesus, much less the reconciliation available through him. Much of their technique involves giving their patients the Word of God in their own language, in faith: faith that the Spirit will make himself clear to the hearer, convincing and converting sinners, to comfort and build up believers unto salvation.
Tenth International Fellowship will join us for worship, and some of their members will lead portions of the liturgy in their own native languages. At the 11:00 service, we will baptize several of TIF’s new believers. We will also hear from Elaine Duncan of the Scottish Bible Society, which seeks to get the Bible in the hands of all peoples and nations. We will hear how the Spirit of God is working through translation and distribution efforts, some of which happen amidst extremely hostile situations—majorly testing the obedience of the workers.
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The obedience demonstrated by those who have gone around the globe is ridiculous, but it’s not exceptional. All of us are called to a ridiculous obedience, willing to do whatever is required to make disciples of all nations. On behalf of the GO Commission, we’re excited for this coming conference, and we’re praying that, through messages from the distant front, you’ll be aware of God’s heart for the nations and God’s call upon each of us for holy and ridiculous obedience from every Christian on every front.
Often, when I hear encouragement to such ridiculous obedience, I think of times when I’ve failed to live obediently; times when I’ve failed to behold and declare the truth of the gospel. However, the truth of the gospel is that God is sovereign, and God is calling people to himself, and God is the one who does the saving of souls, and—once again, for emphasis—God is sovereign. Ultimately, if God wanted me on the mission field right now, that’s where I would be. But the Sovereign God is somehow working to effect his glory on earth among the nations—even through my disobedience.
But we can’t stand complacent. This same sovereignty motivates us to see the lost reached, because, even though God will only save some, it is entirely certain that he will save them. Further, the sovereignty of God gives us humility amid results, hope amid none, and confidence that God will forever be more faithful than I. Oh, to be obedient! “O for grace to trust him more!” Please read further about the work of Matt and Tara in the October 30, 2015, Tenth Press posted on our blog.
© 2021 Tenth Presbyterian Church.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By James Kurtz. © 2021 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org