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Discipleship off to a roaring start

warriors journal a5e259ba
Happy April Fools Day. At our house growing up, the favorite trick was to switch the salt in the sugar bowl. And our kids love to put a rubber band around the spray hose thing that comes out of the sink, so when you turn on the water, you get squirted. Ha. Ha. Anyway, here’s the best summary …
By Seth Barnes

Happy April Fools Day. At our house growing up, the favorite trick was
to switch the salt in the sugar bowl. And our kids love to put a
rubber band around the spray hose thing that comes out of the sink, so
when you turn on the water, you get squirted. Ha. Ha. Anyway, here’s the best summary of life growing up in our home. You young parents, wait till you get to see your son become a man of God as I have – what a privilege!

I was encouraged at the way our discipleship experiment kicked off
yesterday. Six men disciplers and five women disciplers, each with
their own groups, some of whom in turn have groups. So we’ve shown the
power of multiplication already. A lot of people have said, “No one has ever discipled me and I’d like to try this.” And some early reviews came in.
Here’s one:

“I hope the other accountability groups had as a
great a start as ours did. We each sent an update on
our life status and direction, and I’m really excited and encouraged about some
of the common ground we share (namely, missions and orphans — duh!).
Would make sense that the majority of your blog readers (minus the critics)
would be passionate about missions and orphans, so what a great way to pull us
together! I am excited about building into these guys’ lives over the
next several months.”

If
anyone comes forward and volunteers to help register them, then we’ll
keep on taking late comers who want to join a group for the rest of the week, after which we’ll
shut it off. I’m interested to see what kind of fruit this bears. Here’s today’s lesson from the introduction to my book, A Warrior’s Journal.
* * * * *

warriors journalYour three roles

As
a Christian, whether you feel the heat of the conflict or not, you are
officially enlisted in this sacred struggle for the ultimate liberation and
freedom of men. You have been called to
follow in the footsteps of Jesus, the world’s greatest revolutionary. And in following him you have been given
three quite different roles: that of a warrior, an ambassador, and a minister
of reconciliation. All are needed in the
conflict in which we are engaged; all are effective in different ways.

The warrior

Your first role is to be a spiritual warrior,
just as Abraham, David, and all of the saints of old were,

who through faith conquered kingdoms,
enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the
power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness,
became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. (Hebrews 11:33-34)

You
fight alongside them for the Lord in this conflict spanning time and space,
confronting an unseen enemy who wants to kill you. A warrior is known for his action. He takes the fight to the enemy.

You
must move aggressively to be effective as a warrior, while remembering that
there is a fine line between the aggressive yet compassionate activist and the
bullying zealot. Our activism is only
valid as it is rooted in compassion. We
all like sheep have gone astray (Isaiah 53:6); we’ve all messed up. We are not superheroes; we’re wounded
warriors. We may move forth fearlessly,
but we do so with tears in our eyes, identifying with the pain that others must
endure.

The ambassador

Next,
let’s look at the role of ambassador.
Engaging the enemy can require different approaches, so it’s nice to
know that an ambassador’s finesse is a part of our repertoire. 1 Corinthians 5:20 says, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as
though God were making his appeal through us.”
In writing to the Ephesians, Paul calls himself an ambassador in chains and
asks for prayer that he might be fearless (Ephesians 6:19-20).

An ambassador represents his country and his
leader’s views, not his own. He is like
a glove – the visible representation of the hand wearing it. In the same way, if we are effective as
ambassadors,
then God will be able to make His appeal
to a lost world through us. We
Christians are Jesus’ only representatives here on earth. People can’t see Him, but they can see us. This is why Paul talks about the church he
has planted in Corinth
as a living letter from Christ:

You yourselves are our letter, written
on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from
Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of
the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Cor
3:2-3).

We
are Christ’s letters to the world!
Sometimes we will be the only word of God that people ever read. It should humble us to realize the enormous
importance of our task as ambassadors.

Though
ambassadors have finesse and diplomacy, they first and foremost represent
another. We therefore must not be afraid
to challenge the complacency or bondage that people find themselves in. Jesus is a revolutionary. That means His views are a threat to those in
power, those with a stake in a sinful status quo. Following someone like that can put your life
in jeopardy. It can make your knees
knock! That’s why Paul asked for prayer
to be fearless. We simply can’t
entertain fear as we represent a worldview that is going to seem crazy to many
people blinded by the prince of this world (Eph 2:1-3). We must be bold. We must sop up every ounce of conviction
possible so that it can be squeezed out of us at the proper moment. The Jesus whose ambassador we are moves
boldly in the presence of enemies.

The minister of reconciliation

A
third role we have as we engage in this struggle is as a minister of
reconciliation. Just as God reconciled
us to Himself through Christ, so He has given us the ministry of reconciliation
(2 Cor 5:19). He calls us ministers of the Spirit (2 Cor
3:6). All of us are born sinners,
estranged from God, living life according to our own desires. Equipped with the Holy Spirit, we are given
the words and actions that will woo back wayward hearts.

In
our own strength, we might obtusely repeat a list of scriptures or share a
tract and call it done. But the heart
doesn’t often work that way. The human
heart is as shy as a fawn hiding in the underbrush. A minister of reconciliation who waits on the
Spirit for direction won’t just go tromping off to find it. Spirit-led ministers listen for the sounds of
brokenness and yearning in a heart that needs reconciling to its creator. And then, as a tender intermediary, such a
minister makes clear the opportunity for reconciliation.

Ultimately
each person must choose for or against this hope. He or she must choose whether to let loose of
anger, ignorance or whatever has kept them separated from God. But it is our privilege to deftly assume the
three roles given us as ambassadors, warriors, and ministers, in order to make
that reconciliation between God and man possible.

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