My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in me and I am in you…May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.
Jesus changed the world one life at a time. The words He spoke gave new life to needy souls (John 6:68). Today, the world thirsts for answers as people seek relief from abuse, neglect, dysfunctional and broken homes, and spiritual disillusionment brought on by the ever-increasing confusion amongst directionless churches that once claimed to stand for the truth.
It was Jesus’ vision in John 17:20-23 that compelled Him to sacrifice His life, offering hope and refuge from a lost and suffering world. His prayer was at the heart of the direction given in Matthew 28:18-20. Jesus envisioned that through “complete unity” amongst His disciples (John 13:34-35) the world would know how to quench the soul’s thirst with the unfailing love found only in a relationship with God and exemplified by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.
“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
The harvest of souls is plentiful; over 6.5 billion are alive today. The world needs spiritually healthy and stable New Testament Christians to go save these souls from the wolves that feed on them. However, if the Christians are weak and uncommitted, they, too, will be devoured by the wolves of greed, selfish ambition, and bitterness. Jesus gives specific direction necessary to go change the world:
- Ask – The incomparable power of God through prayer is the only way to overcome the negative forces of the spiritual world.
- Go – The mission at hand requires unceasing advancement. The magnitude of the harvest, coupled with the tenacity of opposition in the world, does not allow for disciples to be sedentary. Too often, churches are filled with idle churchgoers rather than active disciples who make disciples as they go!
- Do not take a purse or bag or sandals – Disciples should not be weighed down by anything that could hinder them from reaching the lost. Sin is the only thing that will hinder New Testament Christians from changing the world. Unless we get rid of the baggage of sin in our lives, we will not be able to preach the Gospel in all of its purity and entirety.
- Do not greet anyone on the road – Jesus conveyed the urgency of saving the lost. This would entail focus on the purpose.
Global Impact Begins with the Local Home
…I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, You will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.
1 Timothy 3:14-15
Today, there are over 9,000 Christian denominations worldwide. Rather than providing life solutions, the long-standing divisions and strife that exist among and within denominational churches contribute to the world’s dire condition and stand in stark contrast to the healthy church that Jesus envisioned.
It is the hypocritical “wolves” within the church, teaching false doctrine, that keep the church from being the pillar and foundation of truth that frees people from sin. It is not the absence of vision, strategy or sound doctrine that has fixed the world in its increasingly desperate condition, but rather it has been the absence of thriving churches like the one found in the New Testament.
God’s plan is that through His church, those who are searching for answers would find the truth that would set them free from sin. It is only by holding to Jesus’ teaching that people can become His disciples and know that truth (John 8:31-32). Many search for the truth–aimlessly pursuing every promising wind of teaching that leaves them still thirsting for answers.
There are many who strive tirelessly to “make this world a better place,” quenching the spiritual thirst of those who have yet to come to a knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 3:4), but they ultimately fail because their focus was a global fantasy rather than the local reality existing at home. The world cannot be changed without the home being changed first.
Not only is the New Testament Church the pillar and foundation of the truth, it is God’s household. Throughout the book of Acts, we find entire households of disciples who shared the same convictions from the Word of God, shared the same responsibility to help each other grow spiritually in their relationships with God and one another, shared a common commitment to remembering and responding to the cross of Christ, and experienced the incomparable power of God through prayer.
They respected the fact that God’s household would only be as strong as the Christian households within it, and the household unit was only as strong as the relationships, conviction and devotion shared between the individuals within it (1 Corinthians 12:25). This is seen clearly throughout the New Testament among the 1st-century Christians, beginning with Jesus and His own disciples:
…Then he looked at those seated in a circle around Him and said, ‘Here are My mother and My brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.’
Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night, the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God–he and his whole family.
“The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house.”
1 Corinthians 16:19
The strength and impact of the New Testament Church began at the household level. It was at home that these first disciples embraced the importance of having shared conviction and responsibility, relying on God’s incomparable power. The early Christians’ value for building and transforming the family was a spiritual necessity to keep each other faithful in the face of strong opposition and sin’s destructiveness. The world will be changed as it was by the 1st-century church only if disciples today build healthy and balanced homes in which all of its members share and obey convictions from Scripture, take responsibility for each other (Hebrews 3:12-13) and rely on the incomparable power of God through prayer.
Through building a devoted community of believers, the New Testament Church was effective in reaching the cities of its time. The cliché of “changing the world, one person at a time” misses the underlying point that it takes one change at a time to transform the individual. This requires daily conviction, daily obedience and daily power through prayer. A church cannot change the global community, let alone the local community, if it is not practicing inside the home what it preaches outside in the world. To the 1st-century Christians, it was not possible to separate meeting and preaching in the temple courts from being engaged with one another at home. Who they were there overflowed to who they were in their community, and who these disciples were in their local community defined who the church was in the metropolis. Ultimately, the global impact of the church hinges on the spirituality in the home.