Jesus first disciples watched Him do the impossible. The blind saw, the lame walked, lepers were cleansed, the deaf heard, and the dead were raised. The night before His crucifixion, Jesus promised them, “greater works than these he (you) will do; because I go to the Father (John 14:12).”
Recently, I was talking with a man who knows something about leading teams to accomplish “greater works.” My friend, a retired 2-Star General, served our country here, near, and far away. He served a president in the White House. This man knows what he is talking about.
“The military does hard things. To accomplish our mission, four ingredients are required. The military is organized, equipped, trained, and …”
My mind often drifts away when people are talking. It happens when something is said that connects to other ideas. Lately, I have been teaching and training the people we disciple to tell the stories of Noah, the Flood, and the Tower of Babel.
In the days of Noah, God destroyed everything living on the earth’s surface. His patience had reached an end. The waters above rained down. The springs below gushed forth. Life on planet earth changed forever. Darkness once again covered the surface of the deep. Eight people and a boatload of animals survived.
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Everything else died.
Slooowwwwly, read that again, out loud.
After exiting the ark on dry land, God established an eternal covenant with Noah and his descendants. That covenant is still operational today with you, me, and the other 7,655,957,369 people living today. God promised never to destroy the world with water again.
God instructed Noah’s family to spread out and establish dominion over the earth as His image-bearers. But that is not what happened. Opting instead for a largescale family retreat on the plain of Shinar, they decided to build a tower into heaven and make a name for themselves. In just a little more than 100 years Noah’s family had forgotten what had caused the recent global cataclysm. For a while, the building progressed according to plan. What made this possible? The Proto-Babylonians were:
- and …
Organized – God’s people desirous of accomplishing the greater works Jesus spoke of must learn how to work together. Without defining skill sets and abilities, placing people where they can succeed in the enterprise, and allowing them to work together, the project will die, and the people will drift apart. Designers, material procurers, managers, and laborers all have to work together to execute an organizational plan.
Equipped – Appropriate resourcing is essential to any successful enterprise. The Tower of Babel’s builders required bricks and mortar, ladders and scaffolds, shovels and chisels, muscles and brains. Noah’s descendants were equipped with almost everything they needed to complete their tasks. Ask yourself, “Is the Church equipped to fulfill Jesus’ expectation of doing greater works?
Trained – Having an organizational chart and sufficient resourcing is not enough to accomplish hard, even impossible things. Training allows workers to practice simple tasks that lead to more complicated tasks. Training develops new skills and proficiencies benefitting the entire project. Providing insufficient or improper training dooms organizations to failure before they begin. It is not enough for a would-be carpenter to know what a circular saw is and how it works. Without training, they will hurt themselves or someone else. Would you move your family into a house built by schoolteachers who never trained as bricklayers, framers, plumbers, or cabinet makers, people who had never built anything in their lives? I’m just thinking here. Is at possible that the lost around us have no confidence in our witness because of the lack of practical training we have submitted to?
Wait, say that again!
Since the time of the Tower of Babel, nothing has changed. “There is nothing new under the sun.” The key ingredients necessary for individuals/communities to accomplish impossible tasks must be in place, or they won’t get done. The builders of the tower were organized, equipped, and trained. They had it all. Or did they?
“The military is organized, equipped, and trained. What ties all of this together? The military accomplishes hard things because of common doctrine.”
Before basic training, every member of the military takes the following oath.
I, (Insert Name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
(Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).
This oath is taken seriously, even to the point of death. Approximately 73,000 American soldiers participated in the D-Day invasion of Normandy. The Normandy American Cemetery is the resting place for 9,387 Americans, most of whom gave their lives during the landing operations and subsequent beachhead establishment. Out of every 100 soldiers who took part in the landing, 13 gave their lives to advance their common doctrine!
Flip the Spiritual Switch
Think about it. If the Lord does not Rapture the Church in our lifetime, every single one of the 7,655,957,369+ of the people alive today will die. But that is not the end. We all face eternity on the other side. If the Bible is accurate, most will be separated from God forever, dying spiritually a second time. Perhaps these verses should be considered as the backbone for an oath all believers should take?
And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him. – Hebrews 9:27-28
No one knows how many days, weeks, months, or years are left before God’s story for this world reaches its conclusion. What I know with certainty is this. Billions of men, women, and children will die before history comes to an end. It is time for “greater works.”
Brothers and sisters, before anything can be done, the Church must pray for forgiveness, forgiveness for willfully choosing comfort over compassion, embracing style over substance, and being satisfied with the status quo. Only then will the Holy Spirit clean and and quicken us, unite us as one, empower our ministry, and produce the type of fruit we read about among the Jesus followers of the 1st Century.
COVID-19 has forever altered the way institutional Church functions. New missional thinking is required of Jesus’ followers on our post-pandemic planet. What are the opportunities and obstacles for/to expanded Kingdom impact as a result of COVID-19? Please share those thoughts below. Be polite and respectful. Profane and argumentative comments will be deleted. You might also read this at the dinner table tonight and discuss it with family and friends.
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