Guilt-driven Christianity leads to burnout, whether it’s feeling guilty because you’re not doing enough for God’s kingdom, or because you continue to struggle against so many entangling sins. Guilt is a huge de-motivator for service in God’s kingdom.
- I’m just not good enough yet, not Christ-like enough yet!
- I am never doing enough for God’s kingdom!
- If you only knew all the sins I battle on a daily basis!
- God wouldn’t use me because He could have His pick from so many Christians who are better than me!
If it’s not the great needs of the world that overwhelm you, it’s the great sins of your heart that threaten to keep you from God’s mission.
Your idea of someone living on mission is a victorious Christian who has, if not fully, at least satisfactorily gained victory over the bigger sins in their life and can now focus outward on the world around them. They’ve won the inner battle; now they can look outside.
When Jesus’ commissioned His disciples on the mountain after His resurrection, He told them they would take the gospel from Jerusalem, to Judea, to Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. This was a ragtag group of men who weren’t the most educated or most financially endowed, and yet the need of the world didn’t overcome them. If anyone could have looked at the task and said, “It’s too big and we can’t handle it!” it should have been them, right? We’ve got more opportunities to spread the gospel today than they did, and yet they didn’t balk at the task. Why not?
Perhaps we can find the answer in the verses surrounding the Great Commission text (Matthew 28:29). Just before Jesus tells His disciples to go into the world and make disciples, He makes this statement: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me” (v. 28). And after He commissions the disciples, He makes this promise: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (v. 30).
Hence, the question: What effect do you think Jesus’ statement of authority and Jesus’ promise of His presence made on the disciples, when considering the mammoth task they had been given? Or, to ask ourselves personally: What role does faith in Jesus’ promise of presence play in helping us overcome our feelings of inadequacy?
Jesus didn’t commission perfect people back then, and He doesn’t commission perfect people now. Peter would later compromise his witness to the gospel and would be confronted by Paul. The early Christian churches battled false teaching (Galatians), dealt with immorality (Jude), struggled for unity (Corinthians), and forgot their hope (Thessalonians). And yet through these churches and their leaders, the gospel went forth.
What was the secret? Christ was in them. In his letter to the Colossians, Paul wrote:
God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Too many times, we see the Christian life as something we are doing for God. Nothing will wear you out more than thinking the mission is all on you. Others feel like it’s Christ and me, like we’re wrestling against the devil and whenever we need Him to take over, Jesus comes into the ring and takes a few swings. The Scriptures remind us that it’s Christ in us who brings victory.
For Further Reflection: Take a few minutes to read Romans 8, Paul’s chapter on the victorious life of a believer. Count how many times he refers to the Spirit. What does this tell us about our need for the Spirit as we battle our sinful flesh?