During my devotions one day, I became fixated on what Jesus said, what we know as the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matt. 28:19, NKJV). The word “nations” is the Greek word ethnos, which is the same root from which we derive the term “ethnicity.”
I believe that Jesus was referring not just to the discipleship of individuals, but of entire cultures and societies of people. Have you ever asked yourself what it would look like if a whole nation were discipled according to the principles of God’s kingdom?
With the tremendous amount of evangelism that has taken place since Jesus gave this charge, why don’t we see God being glorified through the prosperity of nations that have been reached? I believe that one reason is the church’s focus on making converts instead of disciples. We have often focused our energies on helping people have an encounter with God rather than a relationship with God. As a result, we have seen many revivals over the years, but precious few have resulted in a lasting change or reformation of the culture.
A reformation requires that biblical truth begin to penetrate all aspects of a society. Today education, government, journalism, the entertainment industry, politics and business all seem to be arenas that have been defined as off limits to the church. Christians have been relegated to a small corner of society. We are afforded some measure of freedom to live out our beliefs, so long as we stay in our corner.
Many Christians have learned to compartmentalize their lives in similar fashion. However, when Christians start abiding in the Word of God and experience the transformation that it brings to all areas of life, it messes everything up—in a good way. You just can’t live life in compartments anymore because the Holy Spirit shows up in every compartment.
I have been encouraged in the last few years to see a greater focus on discipleship. More pastors are challenging their congregations to begin a daily Bible reading plan and to get involved in small groups or Bible studies. More emphasis also has been placed on developing disciplines of regular prayer, fasting and meditation.
I pray that this turn toward a discipleship focus will give rise to a new generation of reformers, people who are not afraid to cross the lines drawn by an increasingly secular society and who will challenge the status quo and make a stand for righteousness.
I don’t know about you, but I have never had much of a taste for status quo. I pray that this new generation will not be content with compartmental Christianity and will be willing to take the fight to the current “high places” in our society: the arenas of politics, business, education, arts and entertainment. These are the sectors of culture that shape nations, and we are starting to realize that we have the power to influence them, one life at a time.
By: Ric Guerra, church health coordinator for the Southwest District of The Foursquare Church and lead pastor of The Rock (Anaheim, Calif.) church’s Santa Clarita, Calif., campus