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We’ve lost the missionary imperative

The tidal wave of relativism that has swept through our culture has created a lot of victims. It says, “Truth is relative, so don’t cram your opinion down my throat.”   The problem is, Jesus wasn’t a relativist and it is impossible to be his follower and to have this easy-come, easy-go …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
The tidal wave of relativism that has swept through our culture has created a lot of victims. It says, “Truth is relative, so don’t cram your opinion down my throat.”
The problem is, Jesus wasn’t a relativist and it is impossible to be his follower and to have this easy-come, easy-go view of truth. When you’re on an airplane, it has a flight plan that takes you a certain way into the airport. The pilot doesn’t have the luxury of multiple options. And when Jesus said, “No man comes unto the Father but by me,” he didn’t leave the door open to other options.
Following Jesus isn’t for everyone,* but if it’s a way that you have found hope (and if you haven’t, that’s fine, please just be honest about it), then passivity and relativism isn’t an option for you.  Jesus said: “Go into all the world and make disciples.” We who follow him need to do what he said.
That’s the missionary imperative. Past generations understood it, but it seems that few young Christians today do. They don’t have a sense of urgency, they don’t seem to grasp the world’s pain or it’s need for hope. The generational ethos is that everything is optional. And I’m not saying they have to change, I’m just saying, “Don’t call yourself a Jesus-follower when you’re not at least prepared to do what he asked his disciples to do.”
Jesus said, “if you are lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth.” I guess that means you’re either in or you’re out. I’ve devoted my life to finding and sending those who are all-in. If you’re one, I’ll gladly serve you in this way. People around the world are much needier than we here in this rich suburban bubble called America. It’s not complicated, we need to go to where they are and speak the language of their heart.
This excellent video captures our team’s experience in Mozambique living out this imperative.
*By which I mean, not everyone chooses to follow Jesus.

Comments (11)

  • Jill Lienemann, Kesher Internati

    Wise insight, as always Seth! Thank you for being a mission-minded mobilizer and reminding us we should be too!

  • I just finished reading a great book on evangelism today called One Thing You Can’t Do in Heaven written by Mark Cahill. I highly recommend it.

    Mark Cahill’s Website

    I’ve also just started reading another convicting book called Too Small to Ignore, Why the Least of These Matters Most by Dr. Wess Stafford, president of Compassion International.

    Did you know that every day worldwide 30,000 children under the age of five die? Sometimes the problems in this world are so great they are overwhelming…

  • I totally agree. That is one of the hardest things I am dealing with now when it comes to sharing the Gospel. People are all about being pleasantly tolerant about others faiths. Nice way to live, but it makes it hard to share Christ’s message. People ask, “Well how do you know that what you believe is the truth? You can’t prove it, so let me be.” All I can say is that God can prove Himself. All I have to do is get the Word out and try to minister to those who really want to know more about Christ.

    One part I question in your blog… You said that following Jesus isn’t for everyone. Isn’t it the exact opposite? Christ is for everyone, but many choose not to follow Him. Following Christ is a choice, not a capability.

  • Good point, Emy. When I say “isn’t for everyone,” I’m just looking at the fact that people choose not to follow him, not that he “isn’t willing that any should perish.”

  • Last summer I, along with a college student, took three boys touring skateboard parks. Along the way, Nate and I broke down the Gospel, sharing a portion of it every evening, and talking about it as God provided opportunities through the day. The last evening of the trip, we talked to the boys about actually surrendering their lives to Jesus. They declined. However, here’s the kicker, for me. These boys had lived in Missoula, MT their whole lives. There are well over 2 dozen evangelical churches there, as well as down the road in Lolo (where our church was). Yet, when asked, these boys stated that they had never heard this information before. Not that they had never had the opportunity before, but that they had never heard the Gospel before. Our nation, with all it’s churches, is spiritually feeding the already fed, and kids are spiritually starving to death because we’re not even getting out into our own communities, not to mention out of the country. May God help us to put aside our comfort and desire to be liked in order to communicate His love and our need for His grace.

  • A Christian can live by example, and doesn’t necessarily need to go around the world to 3rd world countries to witness. He can be a witness in his own family, company, etc.

    The quote “Go into all the world and make disciples” was taken from Mark 16 and is where Jesus is addressing his disciples (minus Judas).

    Furthermore, I don’t think intolerance will help when getting people to know Christ, as it will only breed resentment.

    You said “Following Jesus isn’t for everyone”, what is that supposed to mean? Are you trying to say “Going to heaven is not for everyone”? I think it is for everyone…

  • Adam,

    thanks for pushback. I agree – let’s not be intolerant. That would be the opposite of loving others as Jesus commanded us.

    Re “witnessing”: who said anything about “witnessing”? Jesus didn’t talk about that; he talked about making disciples.

    Nor was Jesus (or am I in quoting him) saying that “all Christians have to go to the third world.” We just have to be prepared to listen for his voice and to follow him there should he so direct us. Most of us have enough difficulty making disciples here in our own country – we’d be doomed to failure going to another culture. But we need to be prepared with a “yes” in our heart if he were to ask us to go.

  • Hi there! I just wanted to clairfy your viewpoint on salvation through Jesus. How do you believe people get to heaven? If it is by “following Jesus” that seems to imply a works-based message of obtaining salvation…

  • I think that perhaps the greatest distraction from the command to go and tell the world about Jesus is our wealth. This is a timely message and challenge for me Seth. thank you!

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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