I’m in a big city, on a crowded sidewalk, standing at the intersection of two busy streets named “Walk” and “Don’t Walk.” I know that I need to get across the street named “Walk,” but every time I step off the curb and begin to cross the street, someone changes the name of the street to “Don’t Walk.” I stop and go back to where I was, because the last thing I want to do is cross the wrong street.
I’ve asked a few people that seemed to know where they were going, how they were able to make it across this intersection with the confidence that they did the right thing and were headed in the right direction. Their response is simple: “I just ignore the signs and do what I feel is right.”
In other words, it doesn’t matter if you are lost or headed in the wrong direction as long as you are sincere in your conviction about where you are headed. So here I am, stuck. Confused. Feeling discouraged. Getting tired of all the time and energy I’m expending, with nothing lasting to show for it. Sounds kind of like ministry some days, doesn’t it?
Never before have we faced such rapid, radical changes in society. Right is now wrong, wrong is praised as good, to stand on biblical convictions is scornful, and to tell someone caught in a destructive lifestyle that they can experience freedom and hope — is considered hate speech.
How do we get unstuck from this moral and spiritual quagmire on the corner of Walk and Don’t Walk and effectively accomplish the ministry that the Lord commissioned us to do?
- Know where you are and where you want to go.
- Take you eyes off the signs controlled by the media and society – Walk and Don’t Walk — and look up. You will see the real street signs. One is clearly marked Broad Way and the other one, Narrow Way.
- If you check your GPS (the Bible) you see that Broad Way leads to pain and death, while Narrow Way, leads to joy, peace, and eternal life. Don’t let the flow of the crowd pull you in the wrong direction.
Too often we have allowed the flow of the crowd to influence the substance of our message. Too many times we have allowed laser lights, smoke machines, media, and cool staging to overwhelm the message. We must remember that our job is not to compete with Madison Avenue and Hollywood. All they have amounts to smoke and mirrors, while we have the message of hope and the transformational power of Christ.
“…Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus…”(Hebrews 12:1,2).
The early church transformed a world that was sinking in every kind of sin and wickedness possible — just like our society today — and they did it by simply “fixing their eyes on Jesus.” We have to ask ourselves if we had kept our focus on the message of Jesus as our Savior, Sanctifier, Healer, and Coming King, and not allowed ourselves to get caught up in the “Wow” factor of presentation, would we find ourselves stuck today?
Jesus made it clear that we are to love God and love people with every fiber of our being (Matthew 22:37–39). If we are to do that, we must stop talking about it, and get out on the streets where we can demonstrate this love in tangible ways. We need ministries that reach kids in their everyday lives. We must remember that Jesus warned that to follow the Narrow Way, means the journey will be difficult (Matthew 7:14). It will be messy and challenging, but in the end, we will see lives transformed.
Be sure we are doing ministry the way God said to do it.
Did you ever wonder how the early church accomplished so much without professionals, experts, workshops, creative curriculum, or even Sunday School? They simply followed the instruction manual.
The local church is given the task of equipping “his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…” (Ephesians 4:12), while families are given the responsibility for the spiritual training and nurturing of their households — “Fathers… bring them (your children) up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4 — also see Deuteronomy 6:4–9, 20–25).
To get unstuck from the muck and mire of today’s society, we need to return to a biblical balance of ministry. Somewhere along the way, we bought into the idea that teaching Scripture is better done by the experts than by mom and dad. When did we begin to think that one or two hours of Bible teaching a week at church has a greater impact than parents teaching the Scriptures at home, and then living the truths out 24/7?
Churches need to find ways to equip parents and heads of households to take on their biblical responsibility for guiding and directing their kids in the ways of the Lord. Likewise, families are to be involved in the corporate ministries of the church — worship, fellowship, equipping, coordinated outreaches, and missions. Families and the ministries of the local church both play a very vital and unique role in our spiritual growth.
Following the clear signs of the Narrow Way, with a single focus on Jesus Christ and a renewed commitment on doing ministry the way the Lord told us it is to be done, will allow us to find ourselves walking above the mess of today, unstuck from all the confusion surrounding us.