And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
This Monday was the final regular pro am event for our local PGA chapter. Looking back, I played in over 20 golf tournaments, scrambles and pro ams this season. And for the first time in as long as I can remember, I didn’t have even one dollar in winnings. It would be easy to get down and consider the season as a failure and disappointment. We judge ourselves by the victories in life. Interestingly, however, I probably played as good as I ever have before. My handicap was lowered three strokes. We are a results-driven society. If a program, a ministry or a mission fails to save 150 souls in the first week, it is quashed, discontinued and deemed a failure. We are even more disheartened if no one shows up or just a handful. Jesus desires us to have a better perspective and motives.
Sometimes its helpful to consider what Jesus did not say or command unto us. He did not say “stick around the house and it’ll work itself out.” He did not even command us to “save the lost.” He did not say baptize at least 20% more new members each year. He never advised us to forgo mission opportunities in order to meet our church budget constraints each quarter. In Mark 16:15, He told us simply “go” and “preach.” How simple, right? Our mission is to be active in spreading the word of God.
We worry too much about the success of our efforts. “What if’s” creep into our motivation. We concern ourselves too much about the results and then forego the journey. I asked our pastor years ago, “how can you preach so hard to so few on a Sunday night service?” His replies, “evidently God thought I needed the practice!” His words are so true. We could visit every house and witness to every family in our neighborhood next month and none follow up on their promise of “I’ll be there Sunday preacher.” Was our effort for naught or did we actually gain practice telling “our story” as witness to others? The more we share our testimony, the more comfortable we become in sharing it. Not only do we receive a spiritual gain when we go and preach, but more importantly a seed is planted in the hearts and lives of those to whom our efforts are directed. “But no one came preacher” is our cry. The result is never our burden to bear. We are to bear witness, not bear burdens. The desire to “go” and “preach” are the actions Jesus expects.
My golf season was a monetary failure. I probably spent over a thousand dollars on entry fees and travel without any financial return. However, when I look at the experiences and the relationships fostered during these efforts, my view of the results is quite different. I made new friends, played new courses, and hopefully became a stronger golfer. In this perspective, I came to the realization I “wouldn’t take nothing for my journey.” Christ wants us to have this view of spiritual production. There are many disappointments in this Christian walk. However, the only true disappointment in the end will be the regret of, “I wish I’d done more.”