I think we all would agree that the world needs to be changed. As the god of this world, Satan has wreaked havoc in every nation with sin and destruction. The closer we get to Jesus’ return, the more we see his fingerprints on our culture, regardless of what country we live in. His schemes manifest in things as subtle as entertainment, and as obvious as persecution through ISIS. His goal is to destroy as many lives as he can. The more people he can deceive, the more people he can keep from an eternity in heaven.
God of course, is very aware of the devil and his power in this world. His solution to overcome that power was to send Jesus to “destroy the works of the devil” (I John 3:8). Jesus destroyed the power of the devil by dying on the cross, but once He went back to heaven, He needed His power to continue to manifest on the earth. Though He could have chosen numerous ways to manifest His power, He honored us with the calling to be world-changers!
“And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:17-18 )
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
As we read these verses, we can catch the excitement of being a world-changer. We can grab a hold of this Great Commission and run into our streets ablaze with God’s power. Full of zeal, we can minister to everything that breathes. We can do everything these verses call us to do, anticipating God’s words to us: “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).
Catching the vision of being a world-changer is godly and necessary. God commanded us to be world-changers. As we go through the end times accomplishing this work, however, we should be checking the condition of our hearts. What is our motive? What is behind the intense desire to impact our generation with God’s power? The following are several motives I believe we’ve all encountered when serving in the Kingdom of God.
The Pressure Is On
Pressure from people can be one of the reasons why we step into the role of a world-changer. On our own, we don’t hold a strong conviction to join the ranks of a world-changer. We haven’t caught the vision, and we’re content to sit alone on the sidelines. When people get in our face and push us to participate, however, we grudgingly give in to the pressure. The problem with this motive is that we are not following a desire God placed in our hearts; we are following someone else’s desire for us. Our heart isn’t in it. We are simply caving into peer pressure in order to pacify someone else.
This motivation is the weakest of all. The “intent” of our heart does not please God when it’s motivated by man and not by Him (Hebrews 4:12; Acts 5:29). Our focus is on people and our performance in front of them, rather than “looking unto Jesus” as the “author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2) The end result of such a mediocre motivation is the bearing of very little fruit (signs and wonders), and the receipt of very few rewards in heaven.
A feeling of obligation can also be a motive in the life of a world-changer. This motivation is based on participating only because we feel like we owe God something. He sacrificed His only Son for us, so now we feel like we must repay Him. We feel guilty for receiving the free gift of salvation and all it entails. As a result, we come up with a list of works . . . the Great Commission included.
The flaw to this motivation is the belief that we could ever repay God for anything. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” It doesn’t matter how many demons we cast out, or how many people we heal and get saved. We could never repay God because there is no debt to pay. The debt has already been paid through the blood of Jesus. When we do not understand this, we are limited in our ministry to others because our message of salvation has not been perfected.
Pride Before a Fall
Pride is another motivation that could find its way into our hearts. This involves seeking to perform in order to see ourselves glorified. We want the applause of those around us. We feel driven to perform more miracles, preach louder sermons, and cast out more demons for the sake of our reputation. We thrive on the attention we get. No matter what it takes, we’re willing to use our power to promote our agenda, and not God’s.
This motivation leads to tragedy because “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). God will not give His glory to another (Isaiah 42:8). The honor due Him is one thing He will not share. It is, after all, His power at work. We had nothing to do with it besides being a vessel He could flow through. The sad result of trying to function as a glory-getter rather than a true world-changer is failure and a forfeit of the honor God would give us in return (Matthew 23:12; James 4:10).
Great Is the Reward
The promise of rewards could also be another motivation for our pursuits as a world-changer. We desire the blessings promised to us as a result of our faithfulness and good deeds. As we put the Great Commission into practice, we anticipate the benefits of sowing and reaping. We are confident that as we pursue being involved in something worth-while, it will open doors for us and bring favor into our lives.
It is true that we will “reap what we sow” as we serve the Kingdom of God (Galatians 6:7; Luke 6:38). God has promised blessings for us, on earth and in heaven, as we give ourselves to Him. However, this alone is also a weak motivation for being a world-changer. It’s based on selfishness, a constant focus on ourselves and what we will get out of it. Like pride, it will end in failure. It is not based on godliness, but on a desire of the flesh.
Zeal for His House
Zeal is yet another motivation for world-changer nominees. It includes a passion to see a cause fulfilled. We feel an intense desire inside to see God’s Kingdom advanced, even to the point of laying down our lives. We’re willing to give all of us and everything we own to see the Gospel advanced. No one or nothing could persuade us to serve any other cause.
This is a positive and powerful motive. Even Jesus acted out of zeal for His house when He overturned money tables in the temple (John 2:17). He was confident and dedicated to the cause for which He was born (John 18:37). However, if we are driven by zeal alone and not by a relationship with Jesus, we will fail as well. Jesus warned of this in Matthew 7:21-23: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”
For the Sake of Love
Love is yet another motivation for acting on the Great Commission. This motivation pursues a cause with a focus on its Leader. Its heart is not so much on the “doing,” but on the “being” in relationship with Jesus. It focuses on the person of Jesus, not just the cause or the power behind the cause. It’s not an obligatory relationship, but a relationship of dedicated love.
I believe love is the highest and the greatest motivation for being a world-changer. Jesus is our perfect example of love’s motivation. His commitment for Great Commission was based on His love for us and for His love for the Father (John 3:16; John 15:9). As a result, He received God’s stamp of approval (Matthew 3:17), and led a successful ministry containing the supernatural. Had He functioned under pressure or obligation, His ministry would have been only half of what God desired it to be. Had He allowed pride and the lure of rewards to be His motivation, He would have been limited in His power. Had zeal been the only fire that drove Him, fewer people would have been impacted. Thankfully, He chose to let love lead Him in His ministry. The outcome was a powerful relationship with those who believe in Him, including you and me.
Those 21 Egyptian men who lined the Libyan beach, ready for their beheading, were in love with Jesus. The last words on their lips were the name of Jesus … and love hymns sung only for Him. They did what they did because of their love for not only the cause, but for the Person behind the cause. Like Jesus, anything less would not have had the same outcome. Sacrifice fails when only based on pressure, obligation, rewards, pride, and even zeal. Something of the flesh easily caves when times get uncomfortable; but when based on a relationship with a person, the strength goes deeper. Strength and a desire to stand strong, unbending, resides on the heart of the world-changer. That world-changer will change the world, but will not allow the world to change them.