Years ago, a friend and I went to a gun range to check our scopes before deer season began. I had just bought a new scope and needed to calibrate it. After setting our targets up, I began shooting to find a zero point. He was watching through binoculars, and every time I fired he said, “no mark.” After five shots, I said, “This is ridiculous, there’s no way that I completely missed the entire target every time. Let me see those binoculars.”
Immediately I saw that every shot was in the black and commented on his apparent blindness. He grabbed the binoculars out of my hands and looked again. He repeated, “I’m telling you there are no holes in that target!” I looked once more and again clearly saw five holes. Suddenly it dawned on me. I was shooting at the wrong target. For whatever reason, I was shooting the target we had set up for him instead of my own. I had not hit my target even one time, but I did hit the target I was aiming for.
All that to say I am fully convinced that every so often we need to pause in ministry and make sure we are on target. Covid-19 has changed the way we have done church over the last year and it hasn’t all been bad. Now is a great time for all of us to make sure our aim is accurate for the season that lies before us.
In order to do that effectively we need to depend on something more reliable than our own opinion or intellect, so let’s try God’s Word. In Colossians 1:28-29 we discover a simple, concise and clear statement about the target we should be aiming at. “And we proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ. And for this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.”
Based on this passage I will share three targets that I encourage you to hit, whatever else you do or don’t do in the coming year.
WE WILL PROCLAIM CHRIST— “and we proclaim Him” Surely, we do not need to be reminded that “…there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) Please do not misunderstand what I am about to say, but the first step to a changed culture is a changed heart. Jesus said from the start that the world (secular culture) will not accept Christ or His followers.
Paul reminded us in 1 Corinthians 2:3-5, “… I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified… (4) And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, (5) that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” Paul understood that there is often a temptation to shoot at the wrong target. The bullseye is the human heart, and the bullet is the gospel of Christ and Christ alone. I don’t know what you are aiming at, but we will proclaim Christ.
WE WILL MAKE DISCIPLES— “…admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ.” Without getting into detail or debate: there is no genuine discipleship without both accountability and instruction. This, of necessity, addresses the obvious place of Scripture in this process. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
While I understand the temptation to apply this verse to our society in a broad sense, the context clearly states here that its purpose is to equip the man of God. When will we understand that the unregenerate man cannot be reformed outside of the saving work of Christ. How much energy are we wasting trying to reform the unbeliever rather than disciple His sheep?
In 1 Corinthians 2:14 we see ” …a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” I am convinced that culture has changed for the worst because of poor discipleship rather than poor leadership. Dr. Roy Fish stated it well, “What do we expect from lost men?” If we want better citizens, or better anything, we need to begin with better Christians. While we may be involved in many things under the banner of Christ, the stated mission that Jesus gave us was to make disciples. I can’t speak for you, but we will make disciples.
WE WILL RELY ON THE HOLY SPIRIT— “…striving according to His power which mightily works within me.” Here, we are reminded of the fact that we are in a war. We must never forget that our labor is for the souls of men. To depend upon our own ideas or ingenuity is to lose. We talk about revival, but where is the brokenness, the agony over our pitiful attempts to imitate the works that only His Spirit can accomplish? We say we are desperate for FIRE, so we look for any sign of smoke.
But we are impatient, even unwilling to wait on the Spirit, so we stir up the dust of fleshly activity and try to convince ourselves that it is smoke. When will we stop insulting God and associating His name with every activity or program we are associated with? If we want His power, it begins IN ME. “His power which mightily works WITHIN ME.” It’s not just a cliché, revival really does begin in me. It’s this simple—draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Let’s determine that by the grace of Almighty God, We will do whatever it takes to labor IN HIS POWER, as He mightily works within me.
What are you aiming at?