The Best Resolution for 2019: To Live to Make Jesus Famous!

Photo by Jason Betz on Unsplash

A slightly different version of this article (targeted more to ministry leaders) was featured at the Baptist Convention of New England blog.

On the first day of 2019 I can think of no better resolution than to live for the fame of Jesus Christ more than ever this year. The Christian missionary Henry Martyn was surrounded by religious leaders once who were trying to convert him to Islam. One of the clerics blasphemed Jesus’ name. Henry began to weep. They were surprised and asked him why he was crying. Martyn explained, “You have just blasphemed the name of my wonderful friend and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

In my context in New England, there are many who blaspheme the name of my wonderful friend and Savior, Jesus Christ. But it is more often that they don’t even know his name. Yet I don’t weep about this very often. I am resolving in 2019 to have more of a heart like Henry Martyn, which loves nothing more than to see Jesus lifted up.

The fact that so many around us don’t know who Jesus is should give us a holy angst, a desire to live to make Jesus famous.

Where the Good News of Jesus Goes, His Fame Goes
While words like “glory” and praise” are used much more often to describe the honor that Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord should receive, the word “fame” is used in the Bible as well.

Moses talks about the fame that the LORD had among the surrounding nations (Numbers 14:15), and Psalm 145:7 sings to God about generation after generation pouring “forth the fame of your abundant goodness” and singing “aloud of your righteousness.” In the New Testament, the Gospels talk about Jesus’ fame spreading throughout certain regions, often after he taught or did miracles (Matthew 4:24, 9:31, 14:1, Mark 1:28). As the “gospel of the kingdom” spread, “His fame spread…” (Matthew 4:23-24).

Just imagine what it would be like if our churches were full of people who desired nothing more than to make Jesus famous. We can do this by spreading the gospel of the kingdom. For where the good news of Jesus goes, His fame goes.

Our Core Motivation
Doing ministry, purposefully practicing evangelism, and making disciples through teaching the Word and modeling what it means to follow Jesus are all ways to make Jesus famous. But this core desire to make Jesus famous must motivate all of those ministry activities. Our love for Jesus must burn in our hearts so much that ministry comes out of a desire to see him become more famous, not vice-versa.

Our problem in ministering to others is often not doing the wrong things, but doing the right things for the wrong reasons. When we have our priorities right, God will often bless with stronger churches, more churches, more converts, and more disciples. But a desire to spread Jesus’ fame undergirds these activities in such a way that even if God does not bless in the way we expect or hope or pray, we will continue, because our hearts burn with a desire to see Jesus glorified.

May our longing prayer in 2019 be, “Father, there are so many around me who don’t know your Son. Show them Jesus through me! Show them Jesus through your church!” God loves to answer that prayer. One of the Holy Spirit’s main jobs is to shine the spotlight on Jesus. When we do the same, we are working with Him. Jesus explained, “He [The Spirit] will glorify me…” (John 16:14a).

The New Year is a good time to step back and reevaluate. Maybe it is time for you to refocus. First, are you involved in ministry through a local church and then in your community, region, or the world? Second, is your ministry about you or about Jesus? Is your core motivation the joy of doing ministry, or first and foremost the joy of loving Jesus? Jesus died and rose again “that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:15). There truly is no greater resolution.

2 Replies to “The Best Resolution for 2019: To Live to Make Jesus Famous!”

  1. Pastor Tim,

    Thanks for your thoughts on the best resolution for 2019. It got me to thinking about:

    Romans 11:36 – 12:1

    • For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

    • I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
    ESV

    I was listening to someone recently talk about how our hearts and souls belong totally to Christ Jesus. True, true and then I thought that while we are still here on earth it is the body that we think of as carrying our hearts and souls to others.

    Then I thought, how can it be that a body still laden with daily sin can be used by God? Then I remembered something about sanctification. A good definition of sanctification is to use something for its intended purpose. An example is often given of the use of a chair. I.e. to sit in a chair is sanctifying the chair, using it for its intended purpose.

    And so, as in Romans 12:1 above we are “- – – to present your (our) bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God – – -” Thus, we are sanctifying our body for its intended purpose only as we present ourselves a living sacrifice to God. I have taken recently to praying every day: Lord, I give myself afresh to you today.

    Consequently, I now better understand how it is that through the body being used for its true intended purpose we can carry the Gospel to a lost world with our whole heart, the Holy Spirt within us, and with every aspect of our soul life fully engaged. It all belongs to Christ, everything comes from Christ. For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever.

    This all fits so well with our understand of salvation:

    We are saved from the penalty of sin, that’s justification
    We are being saved from the power of sin, that’s sanctification
    We shall be saved from the presence of sin, that’s glorification.

    Bless you Pastor Tim and all your family,
    We miss you,
    In Christ,
    Tom and Linda McGrath

    1. Thank you Tom & Linda, what beautiful & encouraging thoughts! Thank you for taking the time to share this, it means so much. I love the daily prayer of giving yourself afresh & I appreciate how you brought out the connection of Romans 11:36 with Romans 12:1, which has been one of my life verses. May the Lord continue to shine His face upon you in 2019! We will never forget your great kindness to us. Thank you for your prayers for the gospel to spread in Vermont!

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