Last week I posted on the subject of, when God said to “go and make disciples,” it isn’t something we have to pray about. We should just obey. Now, while I do stand firm on that statement, I thought a good follow up would be to discuss things that we, as disciple-making Christians, must continually be in prayer about, lest you walk away from my blog with the idea that prayer is not an essential part of being on mission with Jesus.
As far as evangelism is concerned, I really believe that one of the biggest failures in reaching the world with the Gospel is that we don’t ask God for divine wisdom in how to do so. It is one thing to say we don’t need to ask “if” we should obey the Great Commission. It is, however, arrogant to say we shouldn’t ask “how?”
I look around at so many well-put-together, “Christian” ministries, but too often they don’t resemble the ministry of Jesus at all. Some refuse to talk about sensitive issues like hell, or even the cross, because those things make people uncomfortable. Some have even given up preaching at all, because it doesn’t seem ‘tolerant’ of others’ opposing views. Some get lost in the logistics of organizational life, whether it be money or technology, music or stage decorations, because they feel that if everything isn’t just right, or if there is any question of how things will go, then chaos will ensue or people won’t “feel moved” to respond. Now believe me, I know these temptations all too well. Whether it is in my current role as a pastor in my church or in making preparations for moving to the mission field next year, I battle with so many of these questions daily. But when we give in to those temptations, it is us trying to do pull off the mission of God on our own know-how.
Based on this, what I want to talk about here is that we are clearly told to pray for wisdom. Paul tells the Corinthian church that God gives “gifts of wisdom” and that we are to earnestly desire God’s gifts. (1 Corinthians 12:8; ch14). Then James promises that whenever we pursue God for wisdom, He will give it (James 1:5). If that is clear, then why is this practice so neglected?
I think the reason we tend not to ask for God to give us wisdom in the “how” of ministry is two-fold.
First, God’s ways are not our ways, and by the standard of what is “normal,” His ways don’t usually fit very well. There is an obvious distinction between human wisdom and divine wisdom in that God’s wisdom seems to “wise” humans as foolishness (see Isaiah 55:8-9 and 1 Corinthians 1:20-25; 2:6-9). Despite the fact that God’s wisdom is still far “above” our own, we don’t pursue His ways because we don’t want to be considered weird.
This brings me to the second reason: We think we have enough sense to do it ourselves. We just assume we can figure it out on our own and then in arrogance believe that our way is better than God’s.
The problem? It’s God’s mission! He planned it. He pulled off the work. He is the one now sending us out with the message. From start to finish it is His deal. His way isn’t just better. It’s the only way that will work at all. That is why Jesus says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:13). That is why Hebrews 12:2 says He is “the Founder and Perfecter of our faith.” He started the mission, and He is the one going to see it through. That means that we don’t have our own way of doing it. He has already determined the way, and we either get on board with what He’s doing, or we’re not on mission with Him.
So, in reference to last week’s post, we do what we are told, and “go, make disciples of all nations…” But we don’t go at it on our own. We plead with God to show us how; to make us wise, and then we obey His leading, trusting that His way will bring people into the Kingdom, whether we think it’s a good idea or not.
Bottom line: If you are going to obey the Great Commission, you better be praying for wisdom.