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Love the Lord with All Your Strength

By Lydia Gingerich


Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in the synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Joe Showalter, president of RMM, opened his Sunday morning address to the 2018 Multiply Conference with these verses from the end of Matthew 9. He went on to point out that the state of being “harassed and helpless” is still prevalent in our world today. Giving examples of helplessness in Central American countries and in the Middle East, adding that “even among us, we are harassed and helpless people, apart from Jesus.”

Showalter continued with an encouraging account of the ways CMC has been involved in outreach since its formation. Through the power of Christ, this group of believers has proclaimed and extended God’s love to the harassed and helpless, starting in Maryland and Kentucky, and moving to Latin America, North Africa, and Asia. This process has not only expanded the Kingdom of God, but enriched the conference.

While CMC has been intentional about reaching those around them, their growth has often looked more like addition than multiplication. In the last 40 years, the conference has gained 14 churches and about 5,000 members. “The church has never been perfect,” he said, “But God has, across the centuries and in some very different parts of the globe, shown us what can happen when the natural power of multiplication is unleashed in the church.”

Utilizing the metaphor of farming used by Jesus in the Matthew passage, Showalter asked the congregation how many seeds there are in an apple. He then asked another question: “How many orchards are there in an apple?”

The image of countless orchards being contained in one apple illustrates the potential within a single believer. Showalter emphasized that when the church is focused on making disciples who make disciples, there is the possibility for exponential growth.

“...if we want to multiply, we simply have to do what comes naturally as we’re connected to Jesus.”Jesus often used plants as a metaphor for the Kingdom. The vine and the branches, trees bearing good fruit, the parable of the sower, and many more. This is not just a convenient accident. God’s Kingdom, Showalter pointed out, is designed for exponential growth. This kind of organic, reproducing faith is what will happen when believers are connected to God, and truly allow him to influence every part of their lives.

“So if we want to multiply,” Showalter said, “we simply have to do what comes naturally as we’re connected to Jesus.”

To illustrate the power of multiplication in a tangible way, Showalter conducted an experiment using his audience of roughly 700 people. He held two thick stacks of white notecards and asked everyone to stand up. The rules of the experiment were this: if you receive a stack of notecards, keep one, split the stack in half, give the two halves to two other people, and then sit down. There was a timer counting how long it took for everyone to be seated.

It took two minutes and eleven seconds for all of the 700 people in attendance to receive a notecard. The cards spread slowly at first, but as more and more people held cards in their hands, the dispersion happened faster and faster.

This is what happens when people encounter God. It is a simple concept, but it is not always easy to carry out, and it will take all of our strength. Showalter ended his address with three practical steps for every believer to multiply the Kingdom of God:

1) Listen to Jesus
2) Do what he says
3) Help other people do the same thing

CMC has a history of reaching out, and Showalter encouraged the audience to continue doing so with even more intentionality – to see the potential of orchards within ourselves, to take a notecard for ourselves and pass the rest on, to pray for more workers, to listen to Jesus, to do what he says, and to help others do the same.