How to Go Undercover for God
- Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Editor's note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Ed Stetzer's book, Subversive Kingdom: Living as Agents of Gospel Transformation (B&H Publishing Group, 2012).
People who don’t yet know Jesus sometimes close themselves off from hearing the Gospel message because of biases they may hold against Christians as arrogant or even rude people. But it’s possible to get the attention of seekers – and show them the real difference that faith in Jesus can make in their lives – by working quietly and subversively to put your faith in action. When you go undercover and show seekers what they don’t expect to see, you can expand God’s kingdom on Earth in significant ways. Here’s how:
Follow Jesus’ own example. While He was on Earth, Jesus worked subversively to rebel against evil and lead people to the truth. Rather than trying to force people to listen to Him, Jesus simply announced that God’s kingdom had come because He had come, and He showed people what that kingdom looked like. Jesus calls you to simply be faithful in the small things he asks you to do, and when you are faithful, those things will take on enormous significance by leading to powerful, lasting change for the better in people’s lives.
Help bring heaven to Earth. Each believer’s life can serve as a center for God to use to reorder life on Earth to closer to what it’s like in heaven. Invite God to use your life in that way, and then expect great kingdom work to occur through your life moving forward.
Take action. God is calling you to do much more than just attend church and spend time alone reading the Bible and praying; He wants to send you out into the world to join Him in his mission work building His kingdom on Earth. Keep in mind that if you have a unique role to play to help change the world for the better, and if you don’t accept your mission, the world will suffer as a result. So say “yes” to God’s invitation to follow where He leads you.
Discover joy. When you see how your efforts to serve others as God leads you change people’s lives for the better, you’ll experience true joy, and that will motivate you to keep following where God leads you to help people.
Derive confidence from God’s help. Even though you’re living in the “already, but not yet” time when God has already announced his kingdom but hasn’t yet eradicated evil in this fallen world, you can be confident that God will bless your efforts to live out His kingdom through your lifestyle and empower you to do whatever He calls you to do – from sharing the Gospel message with a broken world to alleviating the needs around you. Simply start where you are, use what talents and resources you have, do what you can, and don’t be afraid, trusting God to work through you when you serve.
Be uncommonly good. Develop a strong character so seekers will notice how Jesus is empowering you to become a good person in the middle of a world where people often behave badly. Ask God to help you live with integrity (being completely honest and dependable), kindness, authenticity, purity, generosity, and an excellent work ethic.
Respond to difficulties in inspirational ways. When you encounter difficult circumstances in this fallen world, show seeker who are watching you what it looks like to respond with faith rather than fear. When people mistreat you, respond gracefully and forgive them, with God’s help. Diffuse the stress and anger in challenging situations by working for peace.
Eliminate idols from your life. Ask God to make you aware of any idols in your life (anything or anyone who is drawing your attention away from God and toward the world’s values). Then start putting those idols into their proper place in your life so you they won’t interfere with God being your top priority. Focus on worshipping God every day; the more you devote yourself to worshipping God, the more you’ll be drawn to Him, and the idols that had been distracting you will start to fall away from your life.
Find your role in God’s mission work and get to work fulfilling it. Only you can fulfill the unique purposes that God has for your life. Ask God to show you exactly what He wants you to do in his kingdom, and when and how you should do it – as much as He chooses to reveal to you now. Then move forward with that work, relying on the strength that God will give you day by day.
Show compassion on people whom others mistreat. Ask God to help you see the reflection of His image in the faces of every person you meet – especially people who are often mistreated in society, such as the disabled, the poor, and the elderly. Show the seekers watching you that all people have great value and are worthy of respect and kindness. When people act difficult with you, be graceful to them. Reach out to help people in need whenever God calls you to do so (without concern for whether or not you think they deserve it), since God has given you so much unconditional love and grace in your own life.
Work with your church to become part of a powerful instrument in God’s kingdom. Keep in mind that God doesn’t intend for any Christian to undertake mission work in His kingdom just as an individual; instead, God has designed churches to be the places for Christians to work together in God’s kingdom. You can be a much more powerful force for good when you’re working with other believers through the church than you can just on your own. So join others in your church to share the Gospel message, make new disciples, and bring glory to God together. Then your church will become an instrumental part of expanding God’s kingdom on Earth.
Adapted from Subversive Kingdom: Living as Agents of Gospel Transformation, copyright 2012 by Ed Stetzer. Published by B&H Publishing Group, Nashville, Tn., http://www.bhpublishinggroup.com/.
Ed Stetzer is vice president of research and ministry development at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, Tennessee. He holds two masters and two doctoral degrees and has written dozens of articles and acclaimed books, including Planting Missional Churches, Breaking the Missional Code, Comeback Churches, and Lost and Found. Ed and his wife, Donna, have three daughters and live in Nashville, Tennessee.
Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on angels and miracles, at: http://angels.about.com/. Contact Whitney at: email@example.com send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience like an answered prayer.
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