A Concise Theology of Changing the World (Volume 3): Together

Ministry is a social endeavor.

Ministry is not the lone ranger appear and disappearing from ministry project to ministry project. It’s a team effort.

Early in his ministry, Paul was teamed up with Barnabas and John Mark (Acts 12:25). And that was before their received their specific commission from the Holy Spirit in Acts 13:2.

This kind of team ministry continued throughout Paul’s ministry which is why Paul writes in the plural first person: “Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” (1 Cor. 4:1) and “Are we beginning to commend ourselves again?” (2 Cor. 3:1).

Paul’s ministry is not Paul’s ministry. It is God’s ministry through Paul and the people with him: “Paul…And Sosthenes our brother.” (1 Corinthians 1:1) “Paul…and Timothy our brother” (2 Corinthians 1:1); Paul…and all the brethren who are with me.” Galatians 1:1-2) and so on.

Getting a special (read: scary) call to ministry typically makes us control freaks. And control freaks are not typically inclusive.

But if Jesus himself could delegate His ministry to those under His care (Matt. 10:1) and eventually unleash that ministry to the world (John 16:7), shouldn’t we be at least as open handed?

The fact of the matter is that we cannot follow in the ministerial steps of the Christ or the early church fathers if our plan is to go it alone.

We need each other. Those of us who are called to expand the kingdom of God must have “team” encoded into our DNA.

That’s why we encourage every leader, “Change the world. Don’t do it alone.” We need each other. We need the accountability and support that Solomon describes:

“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

A Concise Theology of Changing the World (Volume 2): Love Is The Only Reason For Ministry

The world is being changed all the time. It is being changed for the better or for the worse.

As Dewey Novotny pointed out in his WCS 2.0 session, the 9/11 terrorists were world changers.

The question then becomes, what changes the world for the better?

We believe that love changes the world for the better. That is, love changes the world if it’s a world changing love.

The apostle John describes God’s love as being the motivation for his death, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Paul describes love as the motivation for salvation, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved–“ (Eph. 2:4-5)

This points to a simple fact: God’s love is what has been and is changing the world. So it shouldn’t surprise us when God turns to his followers and commands them to love like He does.

A lawyer asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was. Jesus answered very succinctly,

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt. 22:37-40)

Again, the answer is love. But not just love, the same love God has.

In his second letter, John explains, “And now I ask you, dear lady–not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning–that we love one another.” (2 John 1:6)

This massive theme echoing throughout the whole of sacred writ should convince us that if we don’t have love, we don’t have a ministry because love is the only reason for true ministry.

As that ministry moves forward –the same ministry that Jesus had– we will see more and more people changed to be like Jesus. And that’s what changes the world.

A Concise Theology of Changing the World (Volume 1): Jesus is Changing the World and He’s Recruiting

Even with all the commonalities that shape our daily experiences, each of us sit in a stream of special experiences and relationships. We all exist after a long line of surprisingly dissimilar events. In our more introspective moments, we may ask ourselves, “Why has God placed me where I am? Why this family, in this area, in this church, surrounded by these people?”

The answer is both simple and universal: God has placed each of us in unique settings and backgrounds so that the unity of His spirit would spread throughout the diversity of His creation.

While God has gifted us in a variety of ways, He has bound us together in a universal way: His Spirit taking command of our desires and directing us to see His will be accomplished on earth as it is in heaven.

That’s what it means to change the world: To see the world defect from its rebellion and return to her Maker and God. That is a work that God has designed and implemented before He laid the foundation of the world. And now he calls us to that ministry as well.

What we bring to the table is not nearly as important as the fact that God brought us to the table to celebrate His Kingship over the whole of creation, both seen and unseen. God’s graciousness reveals Him, brings salvation, teaches us what not to do, teaches us what to do, shows us what to hope for and explains to us why He’s doing all this.

Paul writes to Titus (a world changer, according to Titus 1:5) saying, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Tit 2:11-14 ESV).

That is the message of the World Changer: Jesus is changing the world and He’s recruiting. The presence of God is changing the world and the presence of God is in us, His specifically chosen people. Therefore, our labor sits under heavenly direction as an answer to a heavenly call for the purpose of a heavenly result.