Quick experiment (after you finish reading this article): search for “most influential people in history.” Pick a list. Is Jesus in the top five? Most likely. This isn’t terribly surprising now because we’re living in the wake of his influence. But where would he have been on that list during his lifetime?
Almost every circumstance, from where he was born to who he spent time with, was stacked against his social success. Furthermore, there was no Twitter, Facebook, or nightly news to spread the word about him. So how did he end up with billions of followers thousands of years later?
He began by gathering disciples. But first century discipleship was far different than the coffee shop conversations and occasional service projects we often associate with it now. At that time, it was a daily experience of going about life together and learning from each other.
The point of discipleship was to grow in wisdom and wrestle with real-life issues together. The rabbi (teacher, or the one the disciples were following) would be like a “lens” through which they interpreted scripture. The disciple would potentially even want to become like his rabbi. Jesus started gathering followers who would understand scripture as he did and become like him.
As they learned together, Jesus started doing things differently than other rabbis. They ministered to people with whom “good Jews” would never associate at that time. In fact, they ministered to people with whom nobody would associate at that time. From beggars to Pharisees, Jesus had a message for every person they encountered, and pretty soon he had crowds of people wanting to learn from him and was sending disciples ahead of himself to heal and pray (Luke 10:1-12).
But Jesus’ committed followers didn’t stay with him and didn’t go out and impact others simply because he had something good to say or because they were interested in what he was doing. He had changed their lives. He had spoken into each of their hearts and met their deep needs. He became their servant.
What does this have to do with us being social now? As we set an audacious Kingdom goal, let it be contagious in our lives, and use our talents to take it to others, we have to remember that it’s not about us. It’s not about us having more Facebook friends or followers on Twitter or blog readers. Kingdom goals are for the benefit of other people, which means that even the ways we involve others in those goals must involve serving them.
As you begin living your audacious goal, how will you involve others in a way that serves them? How will it bring a way of life that they can’t resist sharing with others?