Adult Youth GalaxyIn Return to Glory in 2014, I asked the questions: How do we, the church of Jesus Christ, become the glory again? How does the church in America become the light it was intended to be? What must we do for the glory to return?

My Answer: Our greatest hope for the return of God’s glory to the church in America is the hope that God will move on the hearts of men and women in the Marketplace; to encourage, edify and equip them to discover His ways, and to do them.

I truly believe this is God’s word for the church in America – particularly for Marketplace Leaders; and I hope and pray that God has moved on your heart to discover His ways; and that He has given you the courage and grace to do His work, His way. This is the greatest hope for the church in America. However, there is more to the answer. I (unintentionally) left something out. Let me explain.

His Way for Doing His Work

Getting right to the point, God’s way for doing His work is to do it Himself. When His Son commanded us to “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven”, He was not saying, “Go do good work.” The Father does not need to steal the glory of our work. He is perfectly capable of glorifying Himself. Notice in Ephesians 2:10 that we are made for good works “to walk in them”. It does not say, “do them”. There is a work that the Father is doing that, if we let our light shine in it, the world will know that it is His work; and they will glorify Him for it.

Jesus’ command to us in Matthew 5:16 is to “Let your light shine.” What is this light? Good question.

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. John 1:1-4

The light of men is the life of Christ living in and out of them. This is one of God’s greatest mysteries; the hope of glory, found in Colossians 1:27. Like all His mysteries, this one has been given specially for His children to understand.

This is a multi-faceted mystery of immeasurable depth. Consequently, it may mean something different and something more to you. As you consider the remainder of this post, be encouraged to hear from the Spirit and the Lord yourself; discover the meaning it has for you and those in your spheres of influence. Share what you discover by commenting on this post. In so doing, you will be an encouragement to others.

Who is Serving Who?

In their appointed positions, it is critical that Marketplace Leaders understand “who is serving who” to accomplish God’s ultimate purposes. Who is serving who? The answer to this question will challenge your thinking, renew your mind, and change the way you “serve God”.

Let’s start with the assumption that God needs something from us; that there is some service we can do for Him.

If I were hungry, I would not tell you;
For the world is Mine, and all its fullness. Psalm 50:12

The LORD owns all He needs and, as much as we might think differently, He is not in the habit of telling us when He needs it. Seems like one of those “duh!” things, once you think about it. However, most of us would have to admit we really want Him to need us. We want to give back to the One who saves us.

But what would we do? Wash His car? Buy Him dinner? Shine His shoes? There is a humbling aspect to this whole matter of serving God. Once we accept the fact that He really doesn’t need us, we can begin to experience just how much He wants us – and how much He is willing to do for His children.

For since the beginning of the world
Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear,
Nor has the eye seen any God besides You,
Who acts for the one who waits for Him. Isaiah 64:4

Our God is different from all other gods because He intends to act for us – after we wait for Him. Let this sink in. Instead of waiting on us to act, God is waiting on us to wait – so He can act for us. Why would He do such a thing?

For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. 2Chronicles 16:9

The LORD is looking to show Himself strong; and He knows that we are the ones that need His help – not the other way around.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. Mark 10:45

The Father sent His Son to serve His subjects. I hope this has overwhelmed you as it does me. If there’s a lump in your throat right now, don’t resist the urge to praise our Father and our Savior King. Go ahead: Give Him praise!

While it is certainly true that God serves us out of His love, there is more to the story. In this case, there is something that God receives in His service to us – something like a return on His investment.

Call upon Me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me. Psalm 50:15

And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. John 14:13

By showing Himself strong on our behalf; by responding to our need for His deliverance; by doing whatever we ask in His will, God is glorified.

For more, see Map 16 – Who is Serving Who?

He Couldn’t Do It; Why Should You?

Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.     John 5:19

Very early in His ministry, Jesus said that He could do nothing of Himself. The Son watches what the Father is doing, so the Son can do them. As we will soon discover, this is more than doing as imitation. It is doing in participation – where the Father does the work. Lastly, it is important to note that “the Son gives life to whom He (the Father) will”. All that Jesus did was the will and work of the Father.

I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. John 5:30

Again, Christ says of Himself that He can do nothing apart from the Father. He also says that His judgment was righteous; not because of anything He had done, and not because of who He was, but because He sought the will of the Father. His mission was about the Father’s will and work, not His own.

He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me. John 14:24

Jesus is saying that the very word that is coming out of His mouth is not His word. Amazingly, He is claiming to be nothing more than the mouthpiece of His Father, and nothing more.

Jesus did exactly what He expects of us. If we are to be productive disciples in the kingdom of God, we must become like Him. We must become a disciple.

We must understand that “disciple” is not equivalent to “student”. “Disciple” is much closer in meaning to our understanding of “apprentice”. For example, a disciple spends considerable time with his teacher (versus visiting a classroom once a week). A disciple’s intention is to become like his teacher – to take on the teacher’s lifestyle and character.

An apprentice also expected to be made into a man that would, so to speak, carry on his Master’s “trade”. And that is what Jesus does with His disciples; with one significant distinction. Jesus did not commission the disciples to make disciples of themselves, but disciples like them – those that would “observe all things that I have commanded you”.

You will recall that Jesus said, “I can of Myself do nothing.” He said the same for us in the parable of the True Vine:

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. John 15:5

It is in this abiding, “without Me you can do nothing”, relationship that we become His disciples.

He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.     1John 2:6

In our abiding, we must walk as Jesus walk. How was that? His most famous walk was the Via Delarosa – the walk of sacrifice.

And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:8

This section is called Sacrificing for His Plan for this very reason. Jesus sacrificed His life by first denying Himself for the three-plus years He invested in making disciples and then by dying on the cross at Calvary. He requires nothing less from us:

23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.     Luke 9:23-24

Denying oneself is putting aside all self-interest, self-centeredness and self-awareness. It is laying down all desire to protect our life in this world. It is a fundamental step in our receiving His life; the life that shall save us (Romans 5:10) and enable us to walk as He walked.

The key to Disciple Making God’s Way is walking as the Lord Jesus walked. Not “trying” to walk as He walked; nor walking something like He walked. It is not about imitating His life, but allowing His life to do what It naturally does, in the work we were created to walk in (Ephesians 2:10).

How He walked is carefully recorded in the Gospels. It was a walk of surrender, sacrifice and submission to the will and work of His Father. We can do no less and still call ourselves His disciples.

For more, see Map 18 – Making Disciples God’s Way.

The Exchanged Life

In his classic The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Salvation is free, but discipleship will cost you your life.” As you might expect, Bonhoeffer was referring to something more than our mortality. Jesus said it this way:

For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. Mark 8:35

The key to the power of Christ’s life is found in our willingness to lose our own; and, thereby, joining ourselves to Him by faith and transformation. Christ prayed that we would be one with each other, and one with Him and the Father. As we have discussed, this becoming one is a process; a process that begins with our participation in His death. Paul speaks of this exchange:

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20

I want to make a point here about the translation of this verse. Young’s Literal Translation recognizes an imperative “the” before “faith”. A Greek scholar I know has concurred with this translation, which should then read, “I live by the faith of the Son of God”. I believe this is more consistent with the context of this verse and Ephesians 2:8 (“saved through faith, and that not of yourselves”). Our faith is Christ’s faith, lived out of His life.

Others have written on the exchanged life with great eloquence. Two books I recommend are The Normal Christian Life, by Watchman Nee, and The Saving Life of Christ, by Major W. Ian Thomas. For now, let me suggest the following:

  1. Though you may not understand it, Galatians 2:20 is the truth regarding our life in Christ. If you can hear it, faith will come (Romans 10:17).
  2. Say this verse, even out loud, focusing on your crucifixion with Christ. Ask God to give you a vision of your death with Christ. Let faith arise.
  3. Meditate on this verse regularly, fostering transformation through the renewal of your mind.
  4. Invite Christ to prove His life in you, through word and deed. Your experience of His life will encourage you to continue laying hold of that for which Christ Jesus laid hold of you.
  5. Recognize that our death in Christ is only the beginning. He has promised us His life – His resurrected life.

Let me encourage you to meditate on and reckon Galatians 2:20 as truth for yourself; until God does something in you with it. It is too important to put on the shelf until some later day. It is about His life in us. What could be more important?

For more, see Map 21 – The Power of His Life.

Your Assignment

God has blessed the church in America by putting His children in positions of influence and authority. He has positioned reinforcements for the return of glory to the church in America. If you are a Marketplace Leader, then you are a vital part of those reinforcements.

  1. As a child of God, and follower of Jesus Christ, reckon the passages mentioned here to be true for you – particularly Matthew 5:15, Isaiah 64:4, John 15:5, Ephesians 2:10 and Galatians 2:20. Do so until the truth of it has made you free to pursue God’s purpose in your life.
  2. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, share what you have learned here with those you are discipling.
  3. Pursue the steps of transformation with at least a few in your sphere of influence.

Humbly yours and His forever,

Rob Streetman

President, inLight Consulting, Inc.