Recently, my good friend, former MLB pitcher Scott Linebrink, rounded up a group of former and current pro baseball players, along with Francis Chan and his son, to journey down to a ranch south of San Antonio, Texas, where we could get away and hunt for a few days. It was an awesome time with the guys. One of the best parts for me was the conversations and fellowship we were able to have together.
As I was talking to Francis throughout the trip, many things stuck out to me about his life. One day, he was telling me about the gangs of L.A. — the real historical gangs that are generation-old gangs. As he was describing them, he said he was almost jealous of them in a way. He envied how they lived, the fact that they were 100 percent devoted to one another, willing to live and die for each other. Obviously, they are going in the wrong direction with their priorities and goals, but their devotion to each other is admirable. There is no casual gang member; you can’t join for a weekend. You are either all in, or you’re not.
This is exactly what the Church should look like. We should be a people where all we do is serve each other and build momentum for the Kingdom. We should be a people who others can see coming from a mile away — who you can’t help but notice are a gang for Jesus. A people who are all in, all the time.
If we go back and really look at Jesus’ life and what His ministry showed us, we see this type of enthusiastic mindset. When He left Earth, He left Himself in the form of the Holy Spirit, charging us with the Great Commission. What the disciples’ lives looked like after that should be what ours look like today.
It’s hard to compare yourself with others who are doing Kingdom work. It’s easy to see people like Francis Chan and all the work he’s doing around the world and think that lifestyle — the “drop everything you have to make disciples of Christ” lifestyle — is only for the 1 percent of Christ-followers. I don’t think that’s true. I don’t see that philosophy back in Jesus’ ministry. Sure, many can try to pull a verse or two out that makes it seem OK to be a one-toe-in/one-toe-out kind of Christian, but Jesus’ ministry told us that nothing but the Gospel is important! We tend to place too much importance on our jobs, our hobbies, our school, and even our families. Yes, these are important and we are called to take care of our families, but not at the expense of people’s eternity.
I don’t think everyone is called to sell all they have, pack up, and move their family to Sudan; I don’t think I’m called to that either. But at the same time, I’d love to be tested in a major way to make sure I can back up what I’m saying. Am I really willing to drop everything? I want my kids to realize the importance of a life lived for Christ at an early age so they will have a heart to serve, with absolutely no fear of where that may take them.
That’s how the early Church started — they were more like a gang. They led home churches with only 8-12 people underneath them who they were discipling. They didn’t walk through a Sunday service once a week but they walked through life together until those disciples could then go and lead their own groups of disciples in training. The movement created a spider web effect from there. Nothing else got in the way of their mission.
Are we willing to let go of our own needs being met, our own safety and comfort, to go wherever He wants us to go?
— Adam LaRoche, former MLB player