By Matt Thompson, Recreation Pastor At Sirmans Baptist Church
I am kind of a history buff. My favorite course in college so far has been history. I like looking at how people back then impacted and possibly changed the course of history or how we got to where we are as a culture. I like to explore the things that were good and things that wound up to be bad.
Here is a thought to consider. Did you realize that people today are studying us just like they did the generations before? They are trying to figure out who we are as a culture, look at how we behave, and what we will be known for in years to come, and then they are recording it for the generations to come.
This is especially true of the Church today. The Church is under a microscope. We hear about this all the time and there is always some controversy on the way someone believes in contrast to the way someone else believes. Take the recent Hobby Lobby court case as an example. But the truth is, people are trying to figure out what you get involved in. What you “Move” on or in. They want to know what gets your organization or particular Church moving.
We live in the most cause-driven culture ever in history, both inside the Church and out. It seems that everyone has a cause, that everyone has a t-shirt or rubber wristband with some cause that they are trying to promote. There are “movements” like Tom’s Shoes, End It Movement, I Am Second, Compassion International, and Blood Water Mission, Relay for Life, and others that have all come up in recent years. Some of these movements are rooted in the Church and some aren’t, but thats not the point. The point is that I have a problem, and I would submit to you, the reader, that you probably have the same problem. I tend to deal in events or moments not movements.
You see when I help people, I tend to view it like a moment. Just a little serving and I’m done. Done my good deed for the day. The problem is, most of us don’t realize we have a built in off-switch when it comes to helping others. The truth is there is a tension here. There’s a huge difference between a moment and a movement. A moment is defined as a very brief period of time. A movement is defined as a group of people working together to advance their shared theological, political, social or artistic ideas.
Just looking at the definitions it kind of puts it into perspective, a movement sounds much better than a moment here and there. I mean don’t get me wrong, the moments were great! The problem is it takes more than a few disconnected moments to make a movement. The good thing is, the Scripture gives us a great example of some people who took hold of a moment and turned that into a movement.
Before we get too far in, let’s take a look at Jesus’ last instructions to His disciples. Let’s set up where we will be jumping in the Scripture.
Jesus has resurrected, He has already appeared to Mary Magdalene, He has appeared to a couple of the disciples. But, some were still doubting (not just Thomas). At this point, the disciples were all gathered together and then something happened that they probably didn’t expect.
14 “Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:14-16 ESV)
Okay, let’s quickly break this down. In verse 14, the disciples were “reclining,” or resting on the moments they had had with Jesus. They were most likely reflecting on how Jesus had impacted their lives and what they should do with that. This is why He rebuked them. Unfortunately, we tend to do the same. We tend to rest on the moments we might have had with Jesus or serving Jesus. But, look Jesus encourages them towards a movement, in verse 15 and 16. He tells them to MOVE. Specifically, He gives them the imperative “GO.”
You see, the resurrection was a monumental moment. But without these disciples heeding God’s leading, and turning that into a movement, do you realize we wouldn’t be here today? We might not even know the truths of Jesus. They might not have made it out of the first century! Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that God needs us or that He needed them, it’s that He wants us! He chose us to be His vessel, His movement.
Here is the big idea, “It will be the movements, not the moments, that change the world.” Remember, Jesus didn’t see service as simply an event to attend or a box to check. He lived His entire life in light of the needs of others, and in this scripture we see that He encouraged, basically commanded or commissioned His closest followers to do the same. These eleven followed suit. All of them with the addition of Paul later, lived a hard life, a persecuted life for God and were ultimately killed for their faith. The only accepted ion was John whom God spared from a death like that, but arguably lived a harder life in proclaiming the faith.
It’s no different for us, when we choose to serve in big ways and small ways—regularly—we are laying down our lives and looking more and more like Jesus. You can do this, you can find some ways to serve the people around you. You can find some moments to serve and deliver the good news of Jesus to people. But, those are moments that I encourage you to make movements. This is how: just look around and ask yourself is there anyone you could help? Then try to help them, pray for them, ask them about their relationship with their heavenly father. But, don’t make it a one and done visit, continue in it. Let me encourage you in this, if we take a lot of moments to serve, suddenly we have a movement on our hands!