Do you ever feel distracted?
No, really. It’s an honest question. Do you feel like there are too many things going on at any given moment to really focus on what matters most?
Welcome to the club; or rather, welcome to the church.
You see, we live in a world full of distractions. There are so many things vying for our attention on any given day, week, month, or year. Many of us juggle work, family, church, and other community activities, sure, but lately there’s a whole lot more than that to keep us busy.
Most of us know that every time we turn on the news, we’ll likely find ourselves being hit with a whole flood of ugliness and evil. On a global scale, we see millions of refugees without a home, civil wars, terrorism, religious persecution, and human trafficking. In the United States, domestic poverty, animosity, the mistreatment of women, racism, and a whole range of seemingly insurmountable ideological divisions plague us without rest.
The needs are indeed great.
Even as Christians, its easy to find ourselves getting lost in this fray. We love Jesus and want to serve him faithfully, but perhaps struggle figuring out how to help a world that (sometimes) feels like its crumbling down around us.
In short, we’re preoccupied by problems.
And so, many of us find it easier to retreat from all that’s happening around us. We’d so much rather hide in the safety of our homes, Christian churches, and closed-off social circles rather than engage with the difficulty and darkness.
But despite these temptations, many of us do find ourselves asking how we can help. More practically speaking, the question is often asked: Is there actually anything that can help fix what’s so clearly broken about our world?
Fortunately, though we often forget, there is only one hope for us and humanity as a whole and that hope is found exclusively in the gospel of Jesus Christ. The knowledge that God himself came to earth to live among us and pay the penalty for our sins through his death and resurrection simply changes everything.
Instead of being preoccupied by problems, we can be preoccupied by the promise of redemption.
Instead of being preoccupied by brokenness, we can be preoccupied by holiness.
Instead of being preoccupied by the hate we see manifesting itself in the world around us, we can be preoccupied by love.
Ultimately, that is the message of the gospel—it is a message established by, built on, and made possible by love. It’s the same love that came, lived among us, healed the sick and lame, attended to the needs of the poor, and made his home with society’s worst sinners and swindlers.
The world as we see it now is in not the end of the story because we believe in a God that can make all things new.
But still, there is a sense of urgency. We must ask ourselves, “Are we living each day with an urgency of reaching our world for Christ as we have been commanded?” Have our hearts grown dull, tired, overwhelmed by the enormity of the problems, and the great task before us?
The situation is dire, folks. People all around us are living in the dark and our culture certainly isn’t going to be the force that helps them see the light. Many of us simply don’t get the sense of urgency; we don’t understand that the Great Commission is something that requires us to take action today, not ten years down the road.
But if the church is a people preoccupied not by sloth, slowness, or apprehension, but by love, then we’ll be eager to get up on our feet and go out into a world of need.
We won’t be worried about what’s holding us back, but focused instead on that which propels us forward: a deep love for the Lord and a desire to show and share that love in a broken and hurting world.
We just opened registration for Amplify 2019, the largest North American Evangelism Conference of its kind. Our theme is “Preoccupied with Love,” which calls us to give up what holds us back for the sake of others. It calls us to sacrifice from a deep sense of urgency as we look at the brokenness in our own communities and beyond.
We want attendees to leave with a clear sense of the ways God might be calling them out of their comfort zones and into the vast world of need around them. Personally, I am very excited about it. We have a great line-up of speakers, including Colin Smith, CJ Rhodes, Trillia Newbell, Jenny Yang, York Moore, Sherry Harney, James Choung, Jerry Root, Sam Owusu, Dominique Gilliard, Bill Hogg, and more!
The theme is based on Habbakuk 2:14: “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” Because we believe that there is nowhere God isn’t and no person beyond his reach, we want to look for ways that we can take advantage of all that he’s given us as we seek out opportunities to share the gospel.
Do you want to learn to live in the urgency of the moment and join Jesus on his mission to reach all peoples of the world? Then come to Amplify! Take advantage of our super low rate from now through November.
We’d love to help you find ways to expand your gospel reach as you show and share the love of Jesus in new and exciting ways.
Ed Stetzer holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, serves as Dean of the School of Mission, Ministry, and Leadership at Wheaton College, is executive director of the Billy Graham Center, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group.