“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matt. 28:19, NKJV)
My local YMCA was moving. The in-town facility was being relocated out-of-town. Part of the plan to entice members to the new facility included the offering of a special tee-shirt. It not only promoted the move; it promoted the mission of the organization.
Emblazoned across the chest of the black tee were three icons: a Bible opened to John 17:21, a stick figure in a lotus position, and a barbell. The three icons were labeled “Spirit,” “Mind,” and “Body” respectively.
It was a pretty cool shirt. But what struck me was that the Y Program Guide had piles of offerings for the health of the body and a smattering of offerings for the mind but nothing for the spirit, the first of the featured icons.
I approached the program director at the new facility with my observation and asked if I could lead a Bible study to fill that void. She readily agreed and navigated the administrative hoops to make it happen. The offering even found a place in the quarterly program guide.
Over the past few years I have had opportunity to lead fall and spring studies. I have one week left in my spring 2019 study on Colossians. The mix over the span of these studies has included the breadth of denominations and depths of spiritual maturity, including many in search of Jesus.
What prompted me to get a Bible study going at the Y? The main reason is that I am a witness for Christ in my life-spheres, and the Y is one of those spheres.
I define life-spheres as those arenas of life in which God has providentially placed us, where we operate and have contacts, and where we have special opportunity to influence others for Christ. Examples of such arenas are our family, neighbors, work, marketplace, friends, and yes, the gym.
Our Lord Jesus charged us in Matthew 28:19 to “go and make disciples.” To better reflect the relationship between the finite verb (the command to “make disciples”) and the participle (“go”) that gains its flavor from the command, we might say, “In your going, make disciples.” In our going is where we are, positioned by God as witnesses for Jesus Christ.
We witness for Christ by the demonstration of His lordship in our lives and by explanation that points to Him (1 Pet. 3:15). That awareness governs our daily going. It compels our prayer that the Spirit would grant us conversations for Christ and opportunity to minister in His name.
My influence for Christ at the Y involves not only something specialized and official like a sanctioned Bible study, it involves building relationships, taking interest, offering prayer, and talking about Jesus as the Lord provides opportunity.
Last week I received an email from the current membership coordinator. Out of the blue she made this request: “The Executive Director asked if I would check with you regarding prayer requests from Y members and staff. Would you be willing to receive the prayer requests from us on a regular basis, Stan, to pray for those on the list?” I was awestruck at God’s hand to allow me to connect with people in this way.
You have life-spheres, those arenas of life in which God has providentially placed you, where you have special opportunity to influence others for Christ. It doesn’t require another night out. It doesn’t require scheduling. It requires being present and being real with the love of Christ.
The first icon on that YMCA tee-shirt was of an open Bible with John 17:21 referenced. What does that say? The setting is Jesus gathered with His disciples in the Upper Room, about to adjourn to Gethsemane, the waiting room to the cross. In verse 21 He prays “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”
It’s about the mission of the Messiah as ones sent.
- Jesus prayed to the Father in John 17:18, “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.” How can you cultivate greater awareness as one sent?
- For whom will you pray to reach for Christ in your life-spheres (name names)?
Lord Jesus, grant me grace this day to open my heart, open my life, open my eyes, and open my mouth that in my going I may bear witness to You. Amen.
Scripture quotations marked NKJV are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Those marked ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.