I Will Go by Rick Burdette (With special thanks to Thom Rainer and his book “I Will”)
Matthew 28:18-20 (pg. 698) November 1, 2015
I have a really good friend named Mac that was a MASH helicopter pilot during Vietnam…Mac’s in his 70’s now…but he’s still as tough and good as they come. He used to have to drop that “Huey” (helicopter) into LZ’s (landing zones) that were barely big enough…and usually under fire so he could get wounded soldiers back to the MASH unit…bloody, shot up kids strapped to the sides of his helicopter…it was his mission to rescue them.
If you don’t know what a MASH unit is…I’ll show you…and many of you will remember this opening scene:
SHOW MASH OPENING SCENE
Although the TV show took place in Korea during the 1950’s, Mac did the same thing those pilots did…go get wounded soldiers and return them to a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital in Vietnam.
Here’s my question…what if those Doctors and Nurses decided they wouldn’t go out to the battlefield…what if they decided that it would be safer and more comfortable for them to remain in their own cleaner, more sterile hospitals…and what if Mac and hundreds of other helicopter pilots had said, “I’m not flyin’ into the danger zone…“Are you crazy…why would I risk my own safety…my own life to rescue wounded people…if they can get to the hospital on their own…good…but don’t ask me to do it.”
What happens to the Church of Jesus Christ when it stops operating like a MASH unit in the field and becomes more like a country club where doctor’s play golf?
What happens to individual Christians who stop being Helicopter pilots who consider it their mission to rescue wounded people and instead stay in the coffee room talking about “flights they’ve made in the “past?”
Wounded people die.
Jesus’ Great Commission really is the mission for His Church. It’s given authoritatively from our Supreme Commander…and it’s to be the driving force for our existence.
“Go and make disciples of all people.”
How do I know that this is the exact same commission as “Go rescue wounded people?”
I know because of the One who gave me the order…the One who gave you this order…modeled our mission before He gave His commission…Luke 19:10 says “Jesus, the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.”
So I guess it’s urgently important that those who claim to be His disciples answer a vital question…
I. DO WE REALLY BELIEVE THAT THOSE WHO ARE NOT CHRISTIANS ARE LOST?
If we don’t answer this question first, there’s really no point in going further with this message.
You see we live in a world that continually stresses…“Don’t claim your way is the only way…don’t impose your beliefs on those who disagree.”
The world hates Christianity…and the world hates those who are seeking to rescue spiritually wounded people. Why? Jesus said, to His disciples…“I’m going back to my Father…to prepare a way for you to get there as well…there’s plenty of room for all of you there…if it weren’t the truth I’d have told you…you can’t go there now…but I’ll come back for you so I can bring you there myself…and we can be together…you know the way to get there! (John 14:1-6)
But Thomas, one of those disciples had his doubts…“Lord we don’t know where you are going…How can we know the way?”
Jesus’ response leaves no doubt…about how Thomas, Rick and every person in the world gets there… “Jesus told Him, I am the Way, I am the truth…I am the life…no one comes to the Father except through me.”
That’s the question…do we really believe Jesus? That He is the only way to heaven…the only way of salvation? Because that’s a very small gate…and that’s a really narrow road!
And if we who claim to be disciples aren’t urgently seeking and rescuing people morally wounded in our battlefield earth…Why not?
II. BECAUSE WE’VE ALLOWED EXCUSES TO SMOTHER OUR CONVICTION
Thom Rainer in our book “I Will” lists 5 excuses we offer ourselves…
That is not my spiritual gift. Really? You think you are not spiritually gifted in evangelism, so you decide you can leave that responsibility to others. Think about the logical inconsistency of that objection. Would you say that those who do not have the gift of mercy should never show mercy? Of course not. Do you think that a person who does not have the gift of giving should never give? Everyone is called to be obedient to the Great Commission. Including me. And you.
That is what we pay our pastor and church staff to do. I use to think this objection was more of an attitude than a specifically articulated issue. But when I started doing church consultation, I heard it several times. I challenged one church member to show me in Scripture where evangelism and going was limited to the pastor. His response: “That’s common sense. Everyone knows that’s why you pay a pastor.”
I don’t have time. If we don’t have time to share the love of Christ, it’s really not a priority in our lives. It’s a simple question: Is there anything more important than someone having a relationship with Jesus as Lord and Savior? If nothing is more important, how can we not have time to do it?
I don’t want to impose my beliefs on others. This one is really bothersome. Can you imagine the apostle Paul standing before a crowd saying, “I really have some good news for you, but I don’t want to impose my beliefs on you. I’ll just keep my beliefs to myself. After all, religion is really a private matter”? Of course not! The gospel is to be shared boldly and joyfully.
I am an introvert. Let me confess something to you. I used to get really mad at myself when I went somewhere with an extroverted Christian friend and listened to him share his faith. He could develop a conversation naturally and, before I knew it, he was saying something about Jesus. I am an introvert, and my personality did not lend itself naturally to that type of evangelism. So I started praying for other opportunities to share the gospel many years ago. It has been incredible to see how God opens doors for me when I simply ask him for opportunities. And those opportunities fit my introverted personality. Introversion is not a valid excuse.
Here’s the truth…we do what we want to do or what’s really important to us…period.
So how do we reach a place where we say, “I Will” go?
How do we become real disciples of Jesus who are obedient to His commission?
III. WE MOVE FROM THEORY TO ACTION
If we really believe that Christ is the only way of salvation, and that the only way someone can come to Him is by hearing the gospel then we’d better stop practicing Christianity as a theory and put it into action.
Jesus said this very, very plainly, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when He comes in His Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:38)
[Let me give you an example…what if I refused to wear my wedding ring? What if I avoided telling people I was married? What if I pretended to be single when I was with other people? Especially when I was around other women.
Would you…would she believe that I loved her…was proud to share life with her? Or would it be more truthful that I wanted the security of having a wife…but had no real commitment to her and was ashamed of her?]
How many people have that same relationship with Jesus? I want the security of heaven, but I don’t want to tell anyone about my bridegroom and I want to be able to have an adulterous relationship with the world whenever I want.
2,000 years ago Peter and John were in prison. Their crime, telling people about Jesus…when they are escorted before their judges…the Jewish Sanhedrin…after hearing their defense they decide to let them go on one condition, “Just keep your mouths shut about Jesus.”
What did these 2 rebels say to that?
“Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide, for we are unable to stop speaking about what we’ve seen and heard.”
They couldn’t stop speaking about Jesus…far too many of us today won’t even start speaking about Him!
So how do we move from theory to action?
1. PRAY FOR OPPORTUNITIES
It’s simple, either we believe God answers or we don’t. We don’t have opportunities for two big reasons…We don’t ask…or we’re too busy with our own pursuits to see them. It is absolutely how God will respond if you ask Him.
[I was praying for these opportunities last week. I shared at two baseball organizational meetings last Monday after Jimmy Boling had asked me…one at 5:30 and one at 7:00. I shared my love of sports…being burned before a championship game and how God has worked in my life…but I sat next to Donnie before I spoke at the 7 o’clock gathering. I hadn’t seen Donnie for 10 years. Donnie and I used to sit next to each other at the UK games. I got to talk with him about my ministry and about Jesus….I prayed for an opportunity and God put me next to an old friend and 200 kids and their parents.] Pray for opportunities.
2. INVITE PEOPLE TO CHURCH
It’s simple, huh? When we invite someone to Church they have an opportunity to hear God speak to them. Do we believe God miraculously sees the hearts of people and still calls and still transforms? I do…do you?
Thom Rainer’s research group did a study that showed 8 out 10 people who do not attend Church would come if they were invited by a friend. Amazing! If you invite them, they will come.
3. INTENTIONALLY LOOK FOR OPPORTUNITIES
1 Peter 3:15 says, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
You have to settle the issue of Jesus’ Lordship first, but if you have, then hope overcomes fear. Life has a reason for living…and there are opportunities when lost people ask…What’s up with you? Why are you hopeful, even when it’s difficult.
And when we are spiritually alert to such opportunities…we see them and speak hope.
4. BE PREPARED TO SPEAK WHEN THE OPPORTUNITY COMES
Often in scripture it’s a testimony about how God called you, saved you…and is still working to transform you. How the love of Christ makes all the difference…write it down…something powerful happens when you prayerfully prepare and take the time to honor God with your story. Ask other mature believers to help you be prepared. Ask questions in your small group, share the opportunities and have others be praying for you! The opportunities are for you to have Holy Spirit led words. Yes, you’ll be afraid, yes it’s outside of your comfort zone…but that’s where faith is and “it’s impossible to please God without faith.” (Hebrews 11:6)
It’s time isn’t it? Satan loves it when we remain silent. It’s time for His people, His redeemed…to be unashamed of our redeemer…to say… “I WILL GO.”