Tucked away in a little corner of Northern Ontario is a God-loving community of young adults with huge hearts and huge vision. One of the leaders is my friend, Peter Zantingh, who I’m stoked to have as a guest writer on the blog today. He’s radical in his love for God yet down to earth; he faithfully lives out the message that he’ll be sharing with us here. You’ll be challenged personally to evaluate how you live your life and how you approach your whole concept of ‘ministry and missions’. I know I have been…
It was four years ago that I heard a message from the well-known Christian artist Jason Upton. I have heard many messages and rarely do I remember who, where, and even what was said. Yet, I took a nugget from Upton that day and have not forgotten this simple yet significant statement,
“Just look at the people around you and love them. Ask yourself, ‘Who are the people God has given you?’”
Upton was speaking about community and relationship. He spoke about not having to look far to make a difference and to begin to be intentional about the relationships around us. The people around us are the ones with whom we regularly make contact with in our everyday lives. These people range from our close family, church family, work peers, cashiers, etc. These are exactly the ones that God has called us to. We can then seek to love, grow together and simply just ‘do life with’. It is in our local communities and spheres that we can begin to ask God who he has given to us.
Jason Upton spoke from the context of John 17. In this chapter we read about Jesus reciting his famous prayer. First, Jesus prays for his disciples. Then he prays for the ones that will believe. When we read the prayer closely we find what Upton and I believe to be a simple key to discipleship and modeling Jesus. In verse 6 it reads,
“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept my word.”
God had specifically given Jesus his disciples. Jesus had just spent nearly 3 years pouring his life out and giving his heart intentionally to twelve men. Here in this culminating prayer, Jesus says in verse 4,
“I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.”
Jesus’ accomplishment came when he successfully loved and manifested Father God to the disciples God had given him. This prayer preceded the cross and the resurrection, so Jesus could not have been talking about accomplishing all that he was sent to do, but Jesus was speaking of his accomplishment in successfully raising his disciples.
In verse 18-20 we read that just as God sent Jesus into the world, Jesus now sends his disciples into the world. Jesus then prays for the ones that will believe in him through their words. Thus begins the discipleship cycle. Jesus reproduced in his disciples and then they were released to reproduce.
I believe God has called us to make disciples and he has specific people that he has given us just as he had given Jesus. Just look in your community. There are numerous people around you. I believe, maybe, just maybe, God has simply called us not to go anywhere without first loving those around us.
Jesus is the Messiah; he came to redeem the world, yet in his ministry he is not seen frantically running around trying to convert as many people as he possibly can while he is on earth. He is not seen jumping onto a camel’s back riding to China or Africa to go preach the gospel of the kingdom. Jesus is not seen sailing over to Rome to have a huge crusade in the coliseum. Jesus, for the most part, was a local man and stayed quite local.
When he is in Jerusalem it seems he doesn’t favour the large crowds. He is definitely not advertising to draw as many people as he can. He seems content just being with his disciples before a large crowd gathered and he gave the famous Sermon on the Mount. Afterward, he requests to be taken to the other side of the lake to escape and have a nap in a boat being tossed in a storm.
It seems to me that the most defined purpose to Jesus’ ministry was simply being with those God had given him. He was very intentional about pouring his life out and giving his heart to the ones that were to carry his ministry once He left. Jesus was investing in order to leave a legacy. Jesus knew that if he just passed the baton on, and his disciples would do the same, the gospel of the kingdom would reach every nation. God’s mission for Jesus did not die when he ascended, but it continued on in his disciples.
So, what we can take from this is that the very people we are in contact with everyday are the ones that we are called to. We need to focus our lives on loving those close to us, growing together and seeking to disciple those around us. When we ask God, he will give us disciples and people who we are called to ‘do life with’.
Personally, I have had the joy of leading some young kids to the Lord and later baptizing them. On the day I baptized them it felt as if I had begotten them through the gospel, just as Paul had written about Timothy. The day I baptized these kids I was completely filled with joy. At the same time it was sobering because I could not escape the new responsibility to raise these young kids up in the kingdom.
That is what I believe God is desiring for us, to have deep relationships with people we will spend our whole lives pouring into. That is the only way we can leave a legacy and a spiritual inheritance. It is not very hard to find someone in your local community who is ripe for harvest and discipleship. The problem is that we are not looking. We are waiting for the next spiritual high for ourselves. We are hoping for some amazing encounter with God. If we want an amazing encounter with God, we just need to encounter discipleship; it will cause you to live outside of yourself.
Let us follow Jesus’ model to reproduce and multiply. We don’t need to start with 12 as he did, but start with one, just one. Go for it. The Kingdom of God, summed up in one word, is ‘family’, and it is expressed in two words ‘fathers’ and ‘sons’.
About the Author
My name is Peter Zantingh. I live in a house. I am 25 years young. I am a youth leader and a church plant leader with Legacy Life Centre. I am not lazy. I love discipleship, nations and the Father heart of God. You can find me on Twitter.