by Carrie Boren Headington
Jesus began His public ministry with a long-awaited announcement: “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven has come near” (Matt. 3:2).
Jesus, God in the flesh, ushered in the life as God intended and established God’s kingdom a new. The light of the world entered into our darkness.
While Jesus walked the earth, He proclaimed this kingdom, taught about this kingdom, and embodied this kingdom through healing, loving, forgiving, freeing, reconciling, challenging, enacting justice, and through his cross and resurrection…saving.
He fulfilled the words of the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).
And soon before Jesus died, rose, and ascended into Heaven, He said to His disciples,
Very truly I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son…And I will ask the Father and He will give you another Advocate to be with you forever… You know him, because he abides with you, and will be in you. I will not leave your orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live you also will live. On that day, you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. (John 14: 12-13, 16-20)
Jesus’ final commandment and call to His disciples is for us to now carry on enacting the Kingdom of God until Jesus returns.
This is the essence of evangelism and mission.
This is what N.T. Wright calls living in the now and the not yet. We, the followers of Jesus, are called to be the good news of Jesus in the world. In essence, we are now as Christ’s body on earth called to be the presence of Christ in the world. Evangelism is much more than merely telling someone a message; we are to embody the message as follower of Jesus. We are to be the hands, feet, and mouthpiece of Jesus on the earth: in our families, our neighborhoods, our workplaces, our cites, and towns: “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).
Having Jesus Christ as primary in our lives is central to our being His disciples and to our evangelism. We cannot embody Jesus in the world unless He is primary in our own lives.
The reality is that Christ is supreme and primary already. As Paul wrote in His letter to the Colossians,
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in[ him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in[i] him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. (Col. 1:15-19)
Our work as followers of Jesus is to tap into this reality and make Him supreme and primary in our lives.
What does this look like in daily life? My mentor describes our lives like a wheel. The hub of the wheel must be Christ and Christ alone. Nothing else will hold the wheel together. She asked me what I am bringing into the hub of my life that is not Christ alone. What baggage do I bring with me when I minister? Who do I bring with me when I evangelize beyond Christ alone?
So how do we make Jesus Christ primary?
Here is a helpful examination: How do I put Jesus Christ FIRST? FIRST in: Finances Interests, Relationships, Service, and Time.
Finances: Is Christ primary in our finances? Are we storing up treasures in Heaven or on the earth? Do we heed the words of Jesus to not worry about what we will wear or eat and seek the Kingdom of God first in our thoughts? Do we share what has been given to us? Do we tithe to our church?
Yes, by all means we must care for our families. John Stott suggested to always live slightly below our means and give that portion away… John Wesley said, “Make all you can, save all you can, and give all you can.”
Interests: Is Christ primary in our interests? We are each uniquely and wonderfully made. He has given us gifts to enjoy. As the 1924 Olympic sprinter Eric Liddell said, “God made me fast and when I run I feel God’s pleasure.”
Do we give God glory in our gifts and interest? Do my interests glorify God? Do we allow ourselves to experience God’s pleasure in our interests? As we make Christ primary, we become more alive. There is nothing more contagious than a Christian fully alive, experiencing the joy of the Lord in all things!
Relationships: Is Christ primary in our relationships? Do our relationships glorify God? Are we loving people as Jesus taught us to love them? Do we treat all people with dignity? Is there someone we need to forgive or to ask forgiveness from?
They will know we are Christ followers by how we love.
Service: Is Christ primary in our service? Are we caring for those around us? Do we give people time? Are we good listeners as Jesus was? Do we take time for people noticing the people on the margins? Do we care for the poor in our midst?
No one cares what we know until they know we care.
Time: Is Christ primary in our time? Time is our greatest commodity. One of the main schemes of the enemy in modern Western life is to keep us busy. Are we busy doing the work of the Lord without spending time with the Lord of the work.
As the evangelists J.John says, “If we have too many irons in the fire, we can put the fire out. If our output exceeds our input, our upkeep will be our downfall.”
Are we spending time in prayer?
Are we spending time in God’s word?
Are we listening? The great theologian and clergyman John Stott spent an hour a day in prayer, half a day a week in silent prayer, one day a month set aside for silent prayer, and one week a year for silent prayer.
Jesus says, “Abide in me as I abide in you. Those who abide in me will bear much fruit.”
How do we evangelize the world? How do we shine Christ to the world? Begin with ourselves by putting Jesus Christ first in all things. May we say with the great evangelist Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2:20).
Carrie Boren Headington (@CBHeadington) is an evangelist and apologist who communicates the good news of Jesus locally, nationally, and internationally. Carrie founded the Good News Initiative helping people meet God, know God, and share God. She is adjunct professor in evangelism at Fuller Theological Seminary, an evangelist in the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas, the wider Episcopal/ Anglican Church, and an occasional guest on Daystar Christian Television.