Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak at North Ave. Alliance Church in Burlington. I enjoyed speaking there so much, but the one part I don’t always enjoy is the accountability that comes with teaching. James writes, Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness (James 3:1).
So, here’s the big question I’m contemplating this morning for you, me, and anyone else reading this blog:
How does our functional mission as individuals and churches line up with the mission of Jesus? In other words, do our values, goals, priorities, and relationships really line up Jesus’ mission? It’s not that difficult to assess. We can look at how we prioritize our time and money, what relationships we invest in, and the dreams we’re chasing and figure out fairly quickly if they line up with Jesus’ mission. If you’re wondering what that mission was, I believe a succinct way of saying it is: serving the least, seeking the lost, and making disciples of both. Jesus constantly pursued those who were most on the fringe of society and seemed spiritually furthest from God and invited them to follow Him. Then, He took it one step further by equipping them to become the leaders in His movement.
This is not a passing thought in the gospels:
Angels invite shepherds to Jesus’ birth- shepherds were social outcasts and religious outsiders. (Luke 2)
Jesus’ inner circle of followers include blue collar fishermen, a tax collector, a revolutionary, and former adulteress.
Jesus tells His apostles if they want to have influence they must take the posture of a servant. (Matthew 20:25-28)
“As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” Jesus in Matthew 28.
The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” … “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:17-21
And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:30-32
The parables of the lost sheep, lost coin, and prodigal son in Luke 15.
And of course what’s commonly known as “The Great Commission” in Matthew 28.
Jesus’ mission should influence everything in our lives. How we spend our money. Who we invite over for meals. What we do with our spare empty bedroom. How we approach our neighbors and our enemies. What prayers we pray for our children and dreams we challenge them to dream. How we measure success in all arenas of life. Where we choose to live…
This should influence everything in our churches- we are Jesus’ body & family. How we spend our money. Who we intentionally engage. What we do with the spaces that remain empty most of the week. How we posture ourselves towards those who agree with us and oppose us. What prayers we pray for our people and how we equip them to use their God-given abilities. How we measure whether our ministry is a success.
2 thoughts on “Jesus’ Mission= Our Mission?”
Ok. I get it. This is another in a long line of recent unrelated sermons, sunday school lessons, books, blogs, and conversations all collectively titled : “What you are currently doing is not enough.” The so called hard sayings of Jesus command us to extreme radical lifestyle change focusing on loving others, loving God, and telling people about Jesus. The evidence of a changed life is bearing of fruit. Those that have not adopted the radical lifestyle and those that do not bear fruit should question the validity of their relationship with Christ and move to secure that relationship with personal devotion and service to others. Try harder. Thats the party line, right?
Since we are all sinners even after salvation (another issue I don’t really understand) and no one can really meet the absolutely high standards of behavior and living that Jesus sets, how can anyone be assured of salvation? I know its grace but works flow from grace as a demonstration of a changed life. Can you ever bear enough fruit? And if you strive and move forward and adopt a radical lifestyle of self sacrifice, how can you every watch a football game or go to a movie or go to Disney world or anything else for “yourself” and not for “the kingdom” without feeling guilty?
Greg- I think (but not 100% certain) I understand your tension. At the root of this issue is the gospel. Understanding and embracing who God is and what He’s done should alter everything about who we are and what we do. If we don’t have a desire to pursue those on the fringe and/or far from God and see them experience Jesus, then we’ve probably missed what a big deal it is that He saved us.
We can easily let the pendulum swing to the extreme of “I must do more for God.” I think a more gospel centered approach is asking, “how can I join God in His activity?” One will lead to Spirit fueled transformation in our lives and in those around us. The other will lead to religious moralism and frustration.
Finally, I like to challenge people to read the gospel of Luke in one or two sittings and imagine they were there 2000 years ago hearing and watching Jesus for the first time…. I wonder if most of us would have said yes to following Him.