Jason and I were very blessed to be able to take a trip to see our families over this past Thanksgiving. The flight provided me the rare opportunity to read, and I immediately dove back into Dr. David Platt’s book Radical. It is certainly a must read, but something he said stuck out to me. I had been thinking about the subject for quite sometime, and his words added fuel to the fire. In a section of chapter five, Dr. Platt poses the question, “Receivers or Reproducers?” He elaborates that in other countries when believers attend a Bible study or preaching service, they are vigorously taking notes and soaking it in. They try to absorb every word. Their purpose in doing so is to take what they have learned and teach it to others. Jason and I definitely found this to be true on our second mission trip to Niger, Africa. The believers we were teaching wanted to memorize the stories and principles of God’s Word that they were being taught so that they could then go teach it to their villages. It was a thing of great beauty. They were making disciples. Dr. Platt sees American Christianity on the reverse side. We tend to be receivers of the Word. We come to church to “get” something out of it. It’s all about us. This is the concept I had been mulling over in my own mind. This is the issue that God had been posing to my own heart. Is it really all about me?
The answer from Scripture is a resounding no. I praise God that I have had a great model of humility in my Christian walk; a very godly man who has quoted this Scripture more times than I can count. John 3:30 says, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Matthew 16:24 says, “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.'” The requirement for being a Christian, a follower of Christ, is that we deny ourselves and take up our cross; the instrument of suffering. We must decrease in order for God to be able to increase in our lives. We have to get out of the way. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:31b says through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “I die every day!” There must be a constant and consistent effort from us as believers to put away ourselves. This is the great sin of humanity. We desire to please ourselves and be our own gods. Think about the first sin in the Garden of Eden. What sin did Eve fall for? The serpent tempts her by saying that she will be like God when she eats of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 3:5). She would be her own god. That is the most alluring sin to us, and I would dare say all sin can be traced to this deep rooted desire to be our own ruler.
The saddest issue of all is that it has become apart of our Christian heritage. We have grown up in a culture that preaches it is all about us. So that, even when we become believers and begin to take part in the body of Christ, we function within that body like it revolves around us. Think about your church. Think about yourself. How would you feel if the church only sang hymns? What if they only sang contemporary worship songs? Do you remember what the pastor preached on Monday? Do you take notes on Sunday morning so that you can teach the Word more effectively in a Bible study you lead during the week? I do not think I am merely speculating when I say that the majority of us, myself very much included, neglect to truly make disciples. Believers, instead, look at church as a building that we subconsciously expect to be entertained in and to be catered to within. We are no longer making disciples, but Christians are now producing generations of self centered, self focused, “me” followers. We do whatever makes us happy and whatever we deem right in our own eyes.
This is certainly not solid ground, but shifting sand. The book of Judges ends in 21:25, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did whatever he wanted.” Proverbs 21:2 says, “All the ways of a man seem right to him, but the Lord evaluates the motives.” Jeremiah 17:9 clarifies further, “The heart is more deceitful than anything else and desperately sick—who can understand it?” Proverbs 28:26 warns, “The one who trusts in himself is a fool, but one who walks in wisdom will be safe.” If Christ is not the king of our heart and lives, we will feel entitled to do as we please. We will reason within ourselves that what we are doing what is right and that we deserve to have our needs met. Yet, Scripture tells us that our heart will naturally lead us astray because it is evil. We are fools to think we know what we are doing. We can only trust in God’s leadership not in our own desires and emotions.
Since we know it is our tendency to do what we want and since this can even be clearly seen in our Christian walk, we have to heed the words of the Lord through Paul and die daily. We must start to focus on our calling and commission to make disciples; to teach what we know to others. This is every Christian’s task; not just a chosen few. When the focus is off ourselves, we will become reproducers and not merely receivers who attend a building for our own agendas. This is not an easy word from the Lord, but He repeated it so often throughout Scripture that its importance is certain. It is not about me. It is not about you. It is not even about us. It is about Christ, following Him, and teaching and sharing His Word with others so that they too can be followers of Christ. I pray you are encouraged to live out your faith every day. Have a blessed week!