Getting in Touch with the Lost
Last week, I introduced a seven-step approach to making disciples that I believe can serve as a helpful, step-by-step way for us to follow Jesus in fulfilling his Great Commission. By way of reminder, here is the basic approach:
1. Touch - We begin the disciple-making process when we touch base or make
initial, intentional, and engaging contact with an unbeliever.
2. Talk - After winsomely touching base with this person, we then seek to simply
talk with him or her in a casual but engaging way.
3. Table - After we establish a conversational relationship with someone, we can
then invite them into our lives, which is often most profoundly present at our
dinner (or breakfast/lunch) table.
4. Teach - As we grow in our relationship with this person, we must consciously
teach him or her about the gospel by explaining how it applies to our daily
5. Tie - As we grow in our disciple-making relationship with an unbeliever, we need to seek to tie him or her into our network of relationships with believers in the church.
6. Trust - As our unbelieving friend hears how the gospel changes us and sees it
lived out in the life of the church, we need to boldly and lovingly call him or her
to place his or her trust in Jesus, and Jesus alone, for their salvation.
7. Train - When, by God's grace, we make a disciple of Jesus, we need to train
him or her to make disciples as well.
This week, I want to focus on step one: getting in touch with the lost. I believe that by prayerfully and intentionally taking this first step we make a significant step towards making disciples. I'm willing to bet that if we stopped to think about it, many of us would find that we live life in a kind of constant in-between state. What I mean is that we often live in between our last task and our next one. We have a list of priorities (on a spreadsheet, on paper, in our heads, etc.), and we live in such a way that as we complete one we begin making strides to complete the next. We are always in between another task.
Even as I write this I'm sensing this in my own life. In fact, there are several things on my mind right now that I feel like I need to get done: (1) I have to finish a large research paper that is due on Monday; (2) I have to pay our water bill; (3) I have to choose what I'm going to wear to work tomorrow; (4) I have to plan for my lunch meal for tomorrow...and on and on... The reality is that I am consistently tempted to live in this way. There is always something else that needs to get done. Can you relate? With many of us living like this, it's no wonder why we might neglect our glorious responsibility to make disciples...
But consider Jesus. Jesus was a very busy man. As you read through the gospels (particularly Mark), you can't help but get the sense that Jesus seemed to live in a non-stop in-between state. His daily traveling, preaching, healing, teaching, etc. did not cease, so much so that he often had to escape vast and intensely demanding crowds just to be with his Father and pray. I believe it's safe to say that in his three-year ministry Jesus was probably much busier than most of us.
But more than this, Jesus also had a far more important agenda than any of us. In short, he literally came to save the world! You see, Jesus was not frantically busy (like we can at times get), but had a clear purpose and agenda for everything that he did...and it all led to the cross. Everything that Jesus aimed at in his very busy ministry can be summed up with what Luke says in Luke 9:51: "He set his face to go to Jerusalem." Jesus was on a mission to save the world by his death, and he set out on this mission in the most resolute way. Jesus was ridiculously busy, and he was resolutely focused.
So by the time we get to Luke 19, Jesus gets to Jerusalem to accomplish his mission. Here we read about his fateful entry into the place where he would be die for the sins of the world. And so what does this incomparably busy and focused man do before he enters the city of his accomplished mission? He passes through the town of Jericho and stops to make intentional contact with a lost man named Zacchaeus. In Luke 19:5 we read how "when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, 'Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today (emphasis mine).'” Jesus, the busiest of men with the most important agenda ever, intentionally gave attention towards making contact with the lost. So should we...
Being disciples of Jesus, we must seek to imitate him in this way. One comforting thing that we can glean from Jesus' life and ministry is that he relates with our fast-paced lives. He understands and cares about our seemingly never-ending responsibilites. But as Luke tells us here in verse 10, he came specifically "to seek and save the lost." And here we see how Jesus stopped, "looked up" at, and called the lost Zacchaeus to himself, even as his face was resolutely set towards Jerusalem, the place of his saving death. The busy, focused, and agenda-driven Jesus made an intentional effort to get in touch with the lost, and so should we. This is where disciple-making began with Jesus, and this is where it must begin with us.
More in Redeemer Blog
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October 29, 2019When are the Glory Days? Lessons Learned from Heartland, Part One