In the midst of a disruptive year, one company that has really taken off is Zoom! Additionally, those that have invested in Zoom can celebrate an incredible return on their investment. If you were to have invested $1 in Zoom at the beginning of 2020, you would have more than $8 at the time of this blog. An over 800% return in less than a year is incredible!
In the wake of the early days of the pandemic there were many who had the foresight and the good intentions to own stock in the company Zoom. They believed it would be important to buy the stock at a bargain price and so they bought the stock symbol ZOOM. The only problem was the stock symbol ZOOM wasn’t for the Zoom Video Conferencing we all know, but for a little-known company that goes by the name Zoom Technologies. Zoom Video Conferencing actually trades by the symbol ZM.
Many intended to buy Zoom Video Conferencing but instead bought into a little-known penny stock. Amazingly, this “Other Zoom” stock started the year at just over $1/per share and in the wake of the confusion it spiked all the way up to $60/per share. The Securities and Exchange Commission noted that there was mass confusion amongst many investors and so they suspending trading on the symbol ZOOM. When when trading ensued many found out they put money in the wrong company, and took their money back. As of this writing, the stock has plummeted all the way to two dimes a share.
It is important to note at this time that I am not a financial advisor and cannot take your trades!
So why am I sharing this example?
This scenario tells me how important it is to not just have good intentions, but better than intention is precision. If these people would have done some research and looked into this more, they would have avoided some serious consequences. Having intentions is not enough. Just having good intentions often times can lead us to wrong destinations.
As 2020 has brought loads of headlines and obstacles, it’s also brought a great opportunity. It’s been easier to look at things from a 30,000 foot-view. And this is one of my key takeaways. Intentions haven’t made great disciples of Jesus. As much as we celebrate having good intentions, stopping at intention alone is dangerous.
- Every day I wake up with good intentions to love my wife. I never wake up willingly wanting to sin and hurt our marriage, and yet there are times I hurt her.
- The bride and groom have good intentions on their wedding day to love and care for one another the rest of their lives. Half of marriages end in divorce, even among Christians.
- People set New Year’s Resolutions with good intentions, many of them focused around improving their personal health, diet and exercise. 92% of those resolutions fail and the rates of obesity in our nation are the highest ever documented.
- Many intend to save their finances and put themselves in a good spot. Pre-Covid, despite having the greatest economy in the history of the world, debt has been rising and nearly 80% live paycheck to paycheck.
Collectively, Christians have intended to follow Jesus. Somehow, words that non-Christians describe us are the exact opposite of what Jesus is known for.
- He’s known for grace, we are known for judgment.
- He’s known for unity, we are known for division.
- He’s known for good works, we are known for hypocrisy.
- He’s known for reconciliation, we are known for segregation.
Even today, 65% of Americans say they are a Christian. We are not a post-Christian nation, at least according to those statistics. We need less self-identifying Christians, and we need a new brand of Christianity that actually embodies Jesus.
(My newest project is taking this theme further and coming in January 2021. It’s called Reopening Christianity: 5 Questions Every Christian Must Answer. To join the wait list for this series, just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Intending to hit the bullseye and actually hitting the bullseye are two different things.
So here’s my plea to pastors and those in church leadership: Go beyond intention. Lead with precision.
Intention without precision always leads to confusion. Intention without precision leads to the wrong destination.
- Believing in Jesus is great.
- Following Him is greater.
- Intending to live a life of holiness is great.
- Living a life of holiness is greater.
I believe the church of the past has done an admirable job at getting people to raise a hand at the end of a service. It’s done well at presenting the Gospel and allowing for people to receive God’s grace. It has moved people into the baptismal waters. And yet, despite many people added to our number that come in with good intentions, why is that collectively Christians have been a shadow, mediocre, watered-down broken representation of Jesus?
After how good God has been in our lives, we cannot settle for this any longer.
You see, the actual call that Jesus offered far more than “Believe in Me” was “Come, Follow Me.”
He said “Believe in me” a few times, but far more often Jesus said, “Follow me.” What’s amazing about this call is that people can already step into following Jesus before they even believe. Or while they are wrestling. And what will happen? As they follow Jesus, they will find, He really is the way, the truth, and the life.
Rather than stopping at “Believe in Jesus” which comes with really good intentions, let’s invite people to follow Jesus, and point them precisely to Jesus for direction in how to follow Him.
And when I say precisely at Jesus, I mean precisely at Jesus. Jesus is the bullseye. Because being just a little bit off can lead to devastating consequences.
In football, a quarterback can intend to throw a pass to his receiver and if it’s an inch off it can mean mean the difference between a touchdown or an interception. In baseball, an inch here or there could mean the difference between a home run and a strike out.
In the church, when we point people anywhere other than Jesus, even when we point people to good or great people, good or great information, but it’s not Jesus, it will lead to devastating consequences. The best way to follow Jesus is simply to follow Jesus. We will have to continue to find ways to be creative and innovative in our churches, but we do not need to be innovative when it comes to discipleship strategies.
Hebrews 12:1-3: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
2020’s been hard…it’s easy to grow weary and lose heart. The way we continue to run with endurance and stay strong on the inside is simply by being with Jesus. Keeping our eyes fixed on Him.
He is the bullseye and what we are attaining to be in this world. 2020 has shown us a new opportunity to come out stronger and greater, but it will happen when we stop settling for intention, and when we precisely follow the one who is worthy of total commitment.
So, practically what does this mean?
Issue the challenge to follow Jesus more than you do to believe in Jesus.
The most growth I’ve had in my life is when I’ve not just heard about someone living out their faith, but when I’ve actually lived out mine. The greatest spiritual growth will come from your people when they live as disciples.
Give people clear targets in their pursuit to follow Jesus that aim precisely at Jesus.
(Many churches have found these studies helpful. Learn more here).
In my study of Jesus and all that He commanded, I’ve found 5 targets: Be, Forgive, Serve, Give, Go that I’m shooting for that I believe are directly from Jesus.
Challenge people to follow Jesus.
Give them clear targets straight from the mouth and life of Jesus.
Let’s change the story and perception of who Jesus is. If we could just for a moment or a glimpse give people an opportunity to see the real Jesus, think of how the world might change.