The Task Is a Gospel Mission
Part 7

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It is far easier to change people’s behavior than it is to change what they believe. We must resist the temptation to substitute political causes and legal victories for our responsibility to change the hearts and minds of individuals. Similarly, it can be easier to challenge the beliefs of strangers than it is to confront our family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. Here too, we must resist the temptation to simply become anonymous keyboard warriors and faceless financial donors. It turns out making a difference is far more intimidating than we might have imagined. Meaningful and lasting difference is difficult, risky, and messy because it is personal.

Upon hearing that our nation is on a perilous trajectory that ends in divine judgment, it is natural to be moved to action in our spirits. “What can I do?” and, “How can I make a difference?” should be our instinctive response. However, these are emotional reactions that can easily prompt temporary solutions that are primarily aimed at alleviating our conscience. We may be tempted to outsource our responsibility by supporting a church, ministry, political action group, legal group, or any number of other “professionals” more qualified to make a difference. Or we might volunteer to help a particular cause.

There is value in these decisions, but they are not adequate responses to the question, “Do we want to make a difference?” The kind of difference we should seek to make is personal. When we speak of wanting to make a difference, we truly mean that we want to respond to our concern over our nation’s failure to accomplish its divine mandate of drawing people back to God and the silence of God’s people regarding moral matters in our culture by changing the way our friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors think about these matters. We begin making this difference by warning others of the consequences of living in continued rebellion to God’s instructions, but our warning must also be followed by a call to respond in faith.

This is a grand task that will require a lifetime to complete. It is not something we can outsource to others, nor should it be a temporary phase in our lives. Instead, this is a lifelong commitment and a journey that we will only successfully complete through the empowerment of God. Fortunately, such empowerment has already been promised us. Jesus told His followers, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:18b–20).

We are called to make new disciples and to teach them to obey God. This task of bringing people’s thinking on moral matters into conformity with God’s instructions is fundamentally a gospel mission. Jesus did not confine our gospel message to a proclamation of His death, burial, and resurrection. Instead, we apply this proclamation. We declare the risen Jesus to be our rightful Lord who has the authority to determine how we ought to live our lives—both privately and publicly. Thus, our warning and our call to respond in faith are both rooted in our gospel mission, and if we genuinely want to make a difference in our nation, then we must embrace Jesus’ commission to become God’s cultural change-agents.

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Timothy Zebell

As a former missionary to Asia for twelve years and the author of several books, Timothy is passionate about helping people understand the relevancy of God's Word in today's world. His goals are to help Christians discern truth from error, empower Christians to speak into cultural matters with relevancy, and to help Christians capitalize on the opportunities that these matters provide for sharing the truth about God and His gospel message.
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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. Biblegateway.com.