“Today you will go out and make a mark on the world, what will you do to change the world?” It is the most commonly asked question of both high school and college graduates. Valedictorians and Salutatorians promise that their class is going to be the one that makes change. But this is the popular message of culture isn’t it? “Change starts with us” proclaims the introduction to Christian rock band Thousand Foot Krutch’s latest album. But do we ever truly change anything? Do we ever really have an impact.
For most of us it would be hard to take an honest look at our lives and see any sort of impact after high school or college. We feel like we have left little more than a dent. Some of us never want to leave a mark, we hide behind emotional barriers, keeping people out. Either way, whether we have tried to leave an impact or not we have left a mark on everyone we have encountered.
I started thinking about this after a friend of mine approached me about what mark he was leaving at his college. As I pondered this one afternoon I walked into the union where I found the crowd of next year’s Resident Assistants preparing to leave on the annual student life retreat. There, waiting to board the bus, were about five students I had served and taught as a peer mentor, 2 more I considered close friends who I have had the blessing to speak life into. Still 1 other was a member of the 10:31 Writing Team. I had the chance to build these and others up to in the name of the Lord and now, they are preparing to do the same.
Jesus spent his entire ministry preparing and equipping the disciples to train and equip others. There are several examples in the Gospels of Jesus teaching a point or truth to the people in parable or by calling out a behavior of the Pharisees and then expanding on the teaching later in private. A major example of this is Matthew 18:1-20. Here the issue is purification, Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for their insistence of honoring tradition. Then later when the disciples inform him that he offended the Pharisees Jesus explains the point of the lesson. This is something we see again with the Parables in all four Gospels. Jesus , made an impact, people listened when he spoke and knew that they were loved, in short Jesus changed the world.
Paul challenges us to be “imitators of Christ” (Phil 2), But if we are called to be imitators of Christ and Christ changed the world, then should we encourage others to be imitators of Christ so that by the power of the Holy Spirit we too can change the world? If we want to truly making an impact on the world shouldn’t we seek to make disciples?
I think the Great commission gives us proof that these questions are to be answered in the affirmative in Matthew 29. Our calling is to make Disciples of all nations, and so as Christ did we should teach and train others to imitate Christ. Not give a list of rules and man made standards that people can’t live up to like the Pharisees in Matthew 18. But training them to love and care for others, loving the Lord God with all their hearts, souls and minds, not making clones of ourselves, but imitations of Christ. Our ministry should make others want to love and be like Christ.
What is your impact? Are people knowing and loving Christ because of us? Let’s take a good hard look at this over the summer and see how the spirit works in our lives.