by Dave Miller
It is time to roll up your sleeves in the everyday mundane where the Spirit is ready to break in with the Kingdom at the opportune moments!
Who you believe you are determines who you will seek to become. Identity is everything! Dr. John Ewart used to say to me constantly, “We are telling people what to do when they don’t know who they are. It will never work.” Follower of Jesus, you are an ambassador of God with a mission and a message. Believe it. Own it. Become who Christ has declared you to be.
Buried right in the middle of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church you will find an explanation of Jesus’ words:
“Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).
Following Jesus encompasses all of you. There is no second fiddle for the Savior of the World. You are either all in or you are out. Paul says we are controlled by the love of Christ. Our heart beats to the passion of his heart. Our mind thinks with his thoughts. Our strength is expended for his mission. Our soul lives entirely for him. Christ died for all; therefore you have died. Whatever image you sought to identify with matters none to a dead man. Christ raised you to life for his sake.
Don’t take a second look at who you used to be, the flesh and blood that everyone sees and still assumes you are. Do not concern yourself with those old perceptions, opinions, needs to be accepted, or desires to be “someone” or “something.” When you follow Jesus he makes you new.
YOUR IDENTITY: WHO ARE YOU?
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Do you or do you not believe this verse? The influence of identity is powerful. If you fear your friend’s opinions you will become what they say about you. If you love your spouse’s compliments because they convince you of your worth, then you will fly off the handle when he or she speaks a word of complaint. If you value a social status associated with a pair of jeans, you will pay $200 for $5 of denim and a fancy tag. If you live with animosity towards someone who hurt you in the past, your anger defines you. Again my mentor John Ewart has helped me immensely when he says:
You worship what you fear, love, and value. What you worship you become.
Paul says if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. All of these old things have passed away and no longer define you. You are a new creation, and you are who Christ declares you to be. I cannot adequately express how imperative truly believing this truth about yourself is to the whole of your Christian life. Everything has been made new in Jesus.
YOUR IDENTITY: WHY ARE YOU A NEW CREATION?
Death is serious business. It is final, over, and done. New is intimidating business. It is unknown, just beginning, and happening whether you like it or not. God has taken great care and demonstrated unfathomable tenacity to bring you to the point of new. So why are you a new creation?
God has saved you with somebody else in mind. Paul says:
“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”
Reconciliation speaks of the moment when a broken relationship is restored and enjoyed by everyone involved. The life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus was the cost for your reconciliation to God. An extraordinary event in history, by an extraordinarily gracious Savior put you and God’s mission on a collision course. The impact was spectacular and the Spirit of God birthed a restored image-bearing ambassador. You have been granted the full authority of Jesus himself to make disciples through the same powerful gospel that re-created you. Jesus is making you into a fisher of men.
The ministry of reconciliation, seeking and saving the lost, was Jesus’ mission.
“in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them.”
Should it be any surprise that following Jesus would lead you to seek the lost? If you do not find yourself regularly among those who do not believe in Jesus, then you are not following Jesus because that is where he is. We are good at asking Jesus to join our life. Trust Jesus and then he will _________ for you. But Jesus wasn’t sent by the Father to give you the life you feel you deserve. He sent Jesus to seek and to save the lost. Stop asking Jesus to follow you around, and start following him. If you do, you will engage in the ministry of reconciliation.
Engaging the ministry of reconciliation means speaking the message of reconciliation. Paul wrote in Christ God was:
“entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”
The proclamation of the gospel is the most important skill to be practiced in disciple making. We cannot and will not see disciples of Jesus Christ made in all nations apart from speaking the message of the gospel.
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:14).
I am not talking about inviting someone to a Franklin Graham good news festival that you met at church on Sunday. I am not suggesting you send a Facebook link to a family member of your pastor’s last sermon. I am not even referring to making friends with someone who doesn’t seem Christianly so you can demonstrate a “different lifestyle.” I am talking about sharing the good news of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection with with your words, then asking what keeps them from following Jesus. This is walking in the image-bearing ambassador authority of Jesus.
You were made a new creation to be an ambassador with a mission and a message. Paul wrote:
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20).
The image-bearing ambassador takes the minstry and message of reconciliation and calls everyone to faith in Jesus Christ.
YOUR IDENTITY: HOW ARE YOU A NEW CREATION?
This transformation was no small feat. The cost of your new life was the life of Jesus Christ.
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).
The moment on the cross when the sinless perfect Son of God, Jesus, becomes sin and takes the wrath of God that treasoness men and women deserved. The God-Man dies the substitute death of man for the sin of man. Then for those who believe in Jesus, we receive the sinless perfect life of Jesus as our own. Jesus takes our sin and gives us his righteousness! We call this the Great Exchange and what an exchange it is!
If God goes to such great lengths to restore our role in his purpose as image-bearing ambassadors, then what lengths should we go to join in this incredible story? Are you balking? What is holding you back? The Apostle John in his gospel told us about a outcast woman who was shacking up with a man after five divorces to demonstrate the impossible in action.
The Woman at the Well
Jesus and his disciples were making the journey from Judea to Galilee through the region of Samaria. It was a long journey so about noon that day they passed a little town called Sychar and stopped at the well Jacob had given his son Joseph centuries before. Jesus was tired so he sat down by the well and sent the disciples into town to buy some food.
A woman came out from the town to draw water and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”
On this ordinary day she was caught a little off guard. The woman says to Jesus, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” First of all Jews didn’t talk to Samaritans (it was a racism thing) and secondly men didn’t talk to women much either.
But Jesus said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
The woman replied, “And how are you going to get this living water, you don’t even have a bucket and the well is deep. Do you think you are greater than Jacob and his family who dug and used this well?”
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
And of course the woman said, “Give me this water! That way I won’t have to be thirsty or keep coming here to draw water.”
Then the Jesus moment arrives. He said to her, “Go, call you husband and come here.”
This was not what the woman expected. She came to the well just to get some water. Now this Jewish man is talking to her and asking about her husband. The question was a normal one, but not for her. She was racing in her mind about all of her past mistakes.
“I have no husband,” she said. Simple, to the point and not a lie. Shew! Crisis averted.
“You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true,” Jesus said.
“Oh no. He knows,” she thinks. “How does he know that? He must be a prophet. Great! Another religious person is going to tell me of my horrid sinful life and mock me for my past. How do I get out of this one? Change the subject quick!”
She answered, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.”
Jesus responded,” Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
You could almost hear her change in tone. This man was speaking very different than the prophets she had heard, but still this wasn’t what she had planned today. She said, “I know that Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will tell us all things.”
Jesus said, “I who speak to you am he.”
Wait just one moment. He knew everything about this woman and spoke like no other person she had heard. Could he be? The woman ran back to town and told everyone who would listen, “Come meet the man who told me everything I ever did! Could he be the Christ?”
The days old disciples had made their way back with the supplies from town. From a distance they saw Jesus talking to the woman but none of them were brave enough to ask Jesus what he was doing or why he was talking to her. They tried to talk Jesus into eating something from town. But Jesus said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”
Of course the disciples were confused (aren’t they always?). They had just gone into town for food and now Jesus didn’t want anything to eat. Maybe someone had brought him something?
But Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” Then Jesus explained to the disciples: farmers plant their fields and know there are 4 more months until harvest, yet right before the disciples eyes the harvest was ready. They had not planted but they would reap the rewards of someone else’s labor. They were about to gather the people who were going to believe for eternal life. While Jesus was talking, the townspeople had all come to the well.
Many of the people of Sychar had already believed because of the woman’s testimony. When they found Jesus they begged him to stay and Jesus taught for two more days. The people then said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”
So let’s get this straight. A handful of new disciples who had been spending time with Jesus go into town and come back with only food. A five-time divorcee who was shacking up with a guy goes back to town and in the end the many in the town believe. Yep. Turns out this was no ordinary day.
Take a good look at this story.
Who was the ambassador?
Who was her ministry?
What was her message?
What were the results?
What were her credentials/qualifications?
When you follow Jesus he will make you a fisher of men.
The woman at the well became an ambassador after a 20-minute conversation with Jesus. Her ministry was the town of Sychar and her message was simple, “Come meet the man who told me everything I ever did. Could he be the Christ?” The results were incredible: the town came out to see Jesus, and after he stayed to teach for two days, the townspeople didn’t just believe that he “might” be the Christ. They said he was the Savior of the world.” This woman was no Billy Graham. She was no highly educated pastor. She wasn’t even a good church going bible-believing Christian. She had met Jesus and Jesus sent her back to a town the disciples simply saw as a place to buy food.
Are you convinced? I hope so, because the greatest hindrance to the kingdom of God is that lump in your throat before you speak the gospel. So ambassador, who is your mission and what is your message?
Until there's #NoPlaceLeft...
The story of the Woman at the Well can be found in John 4:4-42.
Sentergy: When Jesus, People, Practice and Theology Collide
Chapter 1: The Glory of God
Chapter 2: The Glory of God in Jesus
Chapter 3: The Glory of God in the Gospel
Chapter 4: The Glory of God in Disciple Making
Chapter 5: If You Love Me You Will Obey What I Command
Chapter 6: Monday Morning Disciple Making
Chapter 7: Monday Morning Disciple Making Part 2
Interlude: The Father's Heart
Conclusion: The Lump In Your Throat