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FIRST-PERSON: How to think like a world-class Christian

LAKE FOREST, Calif. (BP)–You’ll either be a worldly Christian or a world-class Christian.

Worldly Christians look to God primarily for personal fulfillment. They’re saved, but self-centered. They love to attend concerts and enrichment seminars but you’d never find them at a missions conference because they aren’t interested. Their prayers focus on their own needs, blessings and happiness. It’s a “me-first” faith: How can God make my life more comfortable? They want to use God for their purposes instead of being used for his purposes.

In contrast, world-class Christians know they were saved to serve and were made for a mission. They’re eager to receive a personal assignment and excited about the privilege of being used by God. World-class Christians are the only fully alive people on the planet. Their joy, confidence and enthusiasm are contagious because they know they’re making a difference. They wake up each morning expecting God to work through them in fresh ways.

Which type of Christian do you want to be?

God invites you to participate in the greatest, largest, most diverse and most significant cause in history — his kingdom. History is his story. He’s building his family for eternity. Nothing matters more and nothing will last as long. From the Book of Revelation we know that God’s global mission will be accomplished. Someday the Great Commission will be the great completion. In heaven, an enormous crowd of people from “every race, tribe, nation and language” will one day stand before Jesus Christ to worship him. Getting involved as a world-class Christian will allow you to experience a little of what heaven will be like in advance.

Here’s how to think like a world class Christian:

— Shift from self-centered to other-centered thinking

The Bible says, “My friends, stop thinking like children. Think like mature people….” Children only think of themselves; grown-ups think of others. This is the first step to becoming a world-class Christian. God commands, “Don’t think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too.”

Begin asking the Holy Spirit to help you to think of the spiritual need of unbelievers whenever you talk to them. With practice, you can develop the habit of praying silent “breath prayers” for those you encounter, such as “Father, help me to understand what is keeping this person from knowing you.”

— Shift from local to global thinking

God is a global God. He has always cared about the entire world. “God so loved the world ….” From the beginning he has wanted family members from every nation he created.

Much of the world already thinks globally. The largest media and business conglomerates are all multinational. Our lives are increasingly intertwined with those in other nations as we share fashions, entertainment, music, sports and even fast foods. Probably most of the clothes you’re wearing and much of what you ate today was produced in another country. We’re more connected than we realize.

The first way to start thinking globally is to begin praying for specific countries. World-class Christians pray for the world. Get a globe or map and pray for nations by name. The Bible says, “If you ask me, I will give you the nations; all the people on earth will be yours” (Psalm 2:8).

Prayer is the most important tool for your mission in the world. People may refuse our love or reject our message, but they are defenseless against our prayers. Like intercontinental missiles, you can aim a prayer at a person’s heart whether you’re 10 feet or 10,000 miles away.

Another way to develop global thinking is to read and watch the news with “Great Commission eyes.” Wherever there is change or conflict, you can be sure that God will use it to bring people to him. People are most receptive to God when they are under tension or in transition. Because the rate of change is increasing in our world, more people are open to hearing the good news now than ever before.

The best way to switch to global thinking is to just get up and go on a short-term mission project to another country! There’s simply no substitute for hands-on real-life experiences in another culture. Quit studying and discussing your mission and just do it! I dare you to dive into the deep end.

— Shift from temporal to eternal thinking

To make the most of your time on earth you must maintain an eternal perspective. This will keep you from majoring on minor issues and help you distinguish between what’s urgent and what’s ultimate. The apostle Paul said, “We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

So much of what we waste our energy on will not matter even a year from now, much less for eternity. Don’t trade your life for temporary things. Jesus said, “Anyone who lets himself be distracted from the work I plan for him is not fit for the Kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62) and Paul warned, “Deal as sparingly as possible with the things the world thrusts on you. This world as you see it is on its way out” (1 Corinthians 7:31).

What are you allowing to stand in the way of your mission? What’s keeping you from being a world-class Christian? Whatever it is, let it go. “Let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back…” (Hebrews 12:1).

— Shift from thinking of excuses to thinking of creative ways to fulfill your commission

If you’re willing, there’s always a way to do it, and there are agencies who will help you. Here are some common excuses:

“I only speak English.” This is actually an advantage in many countries where millions of people want to learn English and are eager to practice it.

“I don’t have anything to offer.” Yes you do. Every ability and experience in your life can be used somewhere.

“I’m too old or too young.” Most mission agencies have age-appropriate short-term projects.

Maybe you’ve believed that you needed a special “call” from God and you’ve been waiting for some supernatural feeling or experience, but God has already stated his call repeatedly. We’re all called to fulfill God’s five purposes for our lives: to worship, to fellowship, to grow like Christ, to serve, and to be on mission with God in the world. God doesn’t want to use just some of his people; he wants to use all of his people. We’re all called to be on mission for God. He wants his whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world.

If you want to be like Jesus, you must care about what he cares about most; you must have a heart for the whole world! You can’t be satisfied with just your family and friends coming to Christ. There are over 6 billion people on earth and Jesus wants all his lost children found. The Great Commission is your commission, and doing your part is the secret to living a life of significance. Jesus said, “Only those who throw away their lives for my sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live!” (Mark 8:35)

Join me Oct. 12-Nov. 24 for the 40 Days of Purpose. Together, we’ll watch our churches deepen and grow. Imagine if every one of your members clearly understood and committed themselves to a lifestyle of God’s purposes for their lives. For more information, go to http://www.purposedriven.com/events/40days/overview_40.asp.
Warren is pastor of Saddleback Valley Community Church, Lake Forest, Calif.

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  • Rick Warren