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Made For A Mission

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My 5th purpose is to share the Good News.

 You were made for a mission.   In John 17, verse 18, Jesus said this – let's read it aloud together –

"In the same way that you gave Me a mission in the world, I give them a mission in the world." 

Last week we talked about the ministry that God has for each believer.  It is unique to each person based on his S.H.A.P.E. – spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, passion and experiences.  And it is something that is to be exercised toward other believers.  Our mission is something different than our ministry.  It is common to every believer and is directed toward unbelievers. 

The scripture that we read refers to its context being “in the world” rather than being in the church.

In John 20:21, Jesus said,

"As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." 

We are being “sent” as Jesus was sent.  And for what purpose?  What is the objective of the mission?

He tells us in Acts 20,

"the most important thing is that I complete my mission, the work the Lord Jesus gave me to tell people the good news about God's grace.”

The fifth purpose is to share the Good News. 

I think that it was John Fisher who defined this mission as “one hungry beggar telling other hungry beggars where to find food.”

It’s the idea of passing it on to other people.  The often misunderstood, biblical term for this is the word "evangelism.”  Most of us, Christian and non-Christian have this negative picture in our minds when we hear this term.  I remember reading one time a statement that went something like: “If there really is a God in heaven He wouldn’t choose to communicate himself through a guy with bad hair on cable television.”  My dear brother says:  “Beggars can’t be choosers but they can be TV evangelists.”

All this is not the essence of evangelism.  The word itself means simply, the good news.  And if it really is good news, the most natural thing in the world should be to communicate it rather than to keep it to oneself.

Look with me at the scripture from Acts 1:8.

"You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." 

The disciples were in Jerusalem when they received this direction.  Jesus was telling them to begin right where they were and then to reach out from there.

Ø      Jerusalem = the people closest to you

Ø      Judea & Samaria = people near but different

Ø      “ends of the earth” = everybody else

He simply asks us to be witnesses.  He doesn’t ask you to acquire more knowledge or to become a student of error in order to be able to properly defend the truth.  A witness is somebody who just tells what they have seen.  They tell other people about their personal, first-hand experience with the gospel.  This is something that no one can take away from you.  You are the expert on your life.  Nobody can be a better witness of what God has done in your life than you, because you are the authority on your life, not some pastor, not some priest, not anybody else.  And so you can speak with confidence of your experience with Christ.

I remember the blind man healed by Jesus and then interrogated by the Pharisees who wanted to discredit Christ.

John 9:24-34 (NIV)

24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God,b” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”

25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” 26 Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?” 28 Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”

30 The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”

34 To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out. [1]

The most skeptical person in this world can never deny you your experience and a witness speaks of his personal, first-hand experience with God.  I hope that you have an experience to speak of today.

Why is it important to God that we give witness to our faith?  It is because God is building his family, the Bride and he wants no one to be excluded.  It’s not Mission Impossible that we are involved in but Mission Inevitable.

This was His plan from the beginning of time.

Look at the next verse.

"This was God's plan for all of history which He carried out through Christ Jesus, our Lord." 

When Christ returned to heaven, he left us with this mission.  It is in our hands. 

There is a legend that recounts the return of Jesus to glory after His time on earth.  Even in heaven He bore the marks of His earthly pilgrimage with its cruel cross and shameful death.  The angel Gabriel approached Him and said, "Master, you must have suffered terribly for men down there.”  He replied that he did.  Gabriel continued: "And do they know and appreciate how much you loved them and what you did for them?”  Jesus replied, "Oh, no!  Not yet.  Right now only a handful of people in Palestine know.”  But Gabriel was perplexed.  He asked, "Then what have you done to let everyone know about your love for them?”  Jesus said, "I've asked Peter, James, John, and a few more friends to tell others about me.  Those who are told will tell others, in turn, about me.  And my story will be spread to the farthest reaches of the globe.  Ultimately, all of mankind will have heard about my life and what I have done."

Gabriel frowned and looked rather skeptical.  He well knew what poor stuff men were made of.  He said, "Yes, but what if Peter and James and John grow weary?  What if the people who come after them forget?  What if way down in the twentieth-century people just don't tell others about you?  Haven't you made any other plans?”  And Jesus answered, "I haven't made any other plans.  I'm counting on them." Twenty centuries later, He still has no other plan.  He's counting on you and me.  High on God's "To Do" list is the evangelization of the world.  His early disciples adopted His priorities and devoted themselves to reaching the world. Christ counted on them, and they delivered.  Have we done as well?

Here are three things that we need to do in order to engage ourselves in God’s plan:

1.      I must share with those in my world.  If your witness is to be relevant anywhere, it must be relevant to the people who observe your life on a regular basis.  It has to be tested here before it is taken anywhere else. 

In Luke chapter 8, Jesus healed a man who zealously requested that he could immediately become a part of his road show.  Look at what Jesus told him:

"’Go back home and tell people how much God has done for you.’ So that man went all over town telling how much Jesus had done for him.” 

That’s where God calls us first.  To our own neighborhood, our workplace, the area in which you are known and the substance of our message is not how bad other people are or how corrupt society is or some conspiracy theory driven by Satanic forces.  This man told his closest associates what Jesus had done for him. 

Now, why don't we do this?  One reason is because we believe the myth that people aren't interested in spiritual issues. 

I don’t believe this is true.  I believe that people are looking for genuine testimony of spiritual reality.  They don’t want to hear about your opinion of the scriptures.  You can’t begin there with many people simply because the scriptures are not authoritative to them, regardless of what you personally believe.  They don’t want a denominational statement from you.  That’s just a party line to many non believers.  They want to hear the Good news, the gospel.  They want to know what your experience of Christ has been.  They can’t argue the reality of your experience.  You are the expert, unless your experience is second-hand or contrived.

Why doesn’t God take us to heaven immediately when we are right and ready?  Because he wants you to share or to preach the Good News, the gospel, your first-hand personal experience with Christ.

Because there are others still lost.  There are people being born everyday into a lost world apart from Christ.  They need to hear from someone.

Look at the next verse. 2 Peter 3:9,

"God doesn't want anyone to be lost, but He wants all people to change their hearts and lives!” 

God is not willing that any should perish.  He is not “slow” concerning His promises . . .  he is patient

If you choose to fall in love with Christ you will fall in love with the people that He died for and the cause or the mission that He gave himself for.

2.      I must dare to reach beyond my world. 

Christ called his followers to reach out to Samaria where they were hated.  He called them to set aside their prejudices and love people that they considered to be half-breeds, not real Jews.  Love calls me to move beyond my comfort zone, to reach out to those who do not want my advances and may oppose me directly.  Yesterday we held an outreach, a River event in our gymnasium designed to reach out to video gamers. 

There was an article in the paper recently that spoke of addictions.  A survey of some 35,000 people revealed that the average age of gamers was 26 years old.  They spent an average of 26 hours a week playing video games.  We had them here for the day and fed them a couple of meals.  I had the privilege to bring the gospel to them at a couple of different times.  This was a “River” event.  We risked getting wet in order to extend a hand to people who may never come to our church for a Sunday service.  I have something in Christ that compels me to meet people where they are in their lives.  That takes me to places and circumstances that create discomfort in my life but I do it for the sake of people who otherwise we may never have an opportunity to minister to.  I want to thank the people who worked so hard for several weeks to accomplish this.  I want to thank the LBA for giving us the permission to try this.  I believe that this honors God.

If I had the cure for AIDS, I'd be shouting it on the street.  It would be criminal to keep it a secret. But I have something even more important than that, the way to eternal life.  It has been given. Somebody cared enough to tell me, I've got to be caring enough to tell others. The Bible says this in I Corinthians 9:

"Whatever each person is like, I try to find common ground with him so that he will let me tell him about Christ and let Christ save him." 

In other words, I just don't hang out with people like me. Christians are called to build bridges, not walls.  I remember beginning Tae Kwon Do in 1985.  I attended noon hour classes for black belts in Master Chung’s club downtown.  I fought with criminals, RCMP officers, politicians, John Betts and Bruce Fitch.  They were a motley crew.  Most of their lifestyles were a personal affront but I loved them.  Eventually some came to Christ.  One very successful young man, an engineer, committed suicide, leaving a very young family.  I walked through that time with the other guys in the club and tried to be a witness where I could.

I must dare to reach beyond my world.  Look at this next verse, Galatians 6:2,

"Stoop down and reach out to those who were oppressed.  Share their burdens, and so complete Christ's law." 

What is Christ's law?  Love your neighbor as yourself.  He says,

Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed.” 

God says our actions are proved by our love.  Look at the next verse.

Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: reach out to the homeless and the loveless in their plight.” 

You know, when you read the Bible you read that Jesus always rooted for the underdog that people in that society wanted to ignore; the powerless, the poor, the left behind, the imprisoned, the orphaned, the widowed, the aged, the mentally ill, the social outcasts, sick, the lepers.  If Jesus were alive today, do you know who He would be hanging out with – the people that we refuse to reach out to.

One day we're going to stand before God and He's going to do an audit of our lives, and He's going to judge if we really learned to love or if it was just all talk.  Did we ever really do anything that showed love or did we just say we loved?  The Bible says one day Jesus is going to separate people into two groups: sheep and goats.  And He's going to say to one group, you know what? Well, let's look, here's what He's going to say, Matthew 25. 

I was hungry, and you fed Me.  I was thirsty and you gave Me a drink.  I was a stranger, and you invited Me into your home.  I was naked, and you gave Me clothing.  I was sick and you cared for MeI was in prison and you visited Me.” 

If you go back and read the rest of that verse, Matthew 25, people are going to say,

When did we do that for you, Lord?”  And He says, “When you have done it to one of the least of my brothers or sisters, you've done it to Me.”

When we neglect the unloved and the unlovely, we neglect Jesus.  When we get down and lift others we become His image and we minister to Christ himself.  It thrills his heart when we begin to see the people that Jesus saw and when their pain begins to reach our hearts.

One day Fulton Sheen, the famous Catholic bishop, was in a leper colony over in Africa, and he was repulsed by these open cancerous, cankerous sores on the lives of everybody laying there in the dirt.  And he walked by one man laying there. He not only had leprosy, but he had a bunch of other skin diseases too, and his wounds – open, pussy wounds on his legs.  And as Fulton Sheen leaned over to talk to him, the cross that he was wearing on a chain around his neck broke.  The chain broke and it fell into that open wound. He said, “You know, for a minute I was just repulsed.  I wanted to just kind of step back.  And then all of a sudden I was filled. I was overcome for this love for this person who had nothing.” He said, “I reached into the sore and I took up the cross.” That, ladies and gentlemen, is what Christianity is all about.  It is about healing broken, messed up lives.  If we're not doing that, I doubt we're Christians.  Because that's what it is all about.  The whole business of Christianity is healing hurts and helping people. It's love.  Now, I’m not going to kid you, if you get involved in your mission in the world, it is going to cost you.  It will.  It is going to break you out of self-centeredness and comfortable things, and it is going to cost you time and energy and effort and money and maybe even your privacy sometimes; but God has promised eternal rewards. 

Look at the next verse. 

“Jesus replied, ‘Let me assure you that no one has ever given up anything for love of Me and to tell others the Good News– that's the mission – “who won't be given backa hundred times over.’”

Do you know what a hundred times over is?  That's 10,000% interest on your investment.  You're not going to get those rates anywhere in the world, 10,000% interest!

God says, “Whatever you do for me is not in vain.”  It is not enough to just share with those in my world; it is not even enough to reach beyond my world, to dare to reach beyond it.  If I am going to be like Jesus Christ,

3.      I must care about the whole world.  I share with my world.  I dare to reach beyond my world.  And then I care about the whole world.  And we have to care because God cares about the whole world.  This is going to take you to a new level of spiritual maturity. Mark 16, verse 15:

Jesus said to His followers, ‘Go everywhere in the world and tell the Good News to everyone.’” 

Just notice a couple of things about this verse.    He's talking to normal followers.  If you're a Christian, Jesus said, “Follow Me, and I'll make you a fisher of men.”  If you're not fishing, you're not following.  He says to His followers, go everywhere, because everybody deserves to hear the Good News. 

At one time, this was nearly impossible. When He said it to His disciples, they didn't even have the ships to get across to other continents.  In those days, they had two means of transportation, walk or donkey, maybe a camel.  That was it. Today, we have ships, and planes and trains and automobiles and buses; and with the internet, the world has even gotten smaller.  You can communicate to all the world from your home, from your den, from your bedroom.  You can sit in your pajamas and communicate around the world now.  It has never been easier to fulfill your mission. 

It has never been easier to care about the whole world. 

If you insist on saving your life, you will lose it.  Only those who throw their lives away for My sake and the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live.” 

Is anybody going to be in heaven because of you?  When you get to heaven, is anybody going to say thank you, thank you for telling me the Good News?  You knew it and you didn't keep it a secret.  You passed it on.

If we care, we must share.  Look at Acts 13:36.  This is on your outline. 

David served God's purposes in his own time.” 

I’m not sure what you’d like someone to say about you in summary of your life, but I love this simple epitaph.  I would love for this to be apt to my own life.  I suspect that you would feel the same.  It might say, “He served his own interests.”  Pretty hollow by comparison.

Or “served many good causes and projects.”  But given the choice to serve the good or the greatest what would you choose.  Is it noble to give ourselves for what is good and withhold our energies and our time from what is clearly the most compelling mission of all time?  I don’t think so.

“Send us around the world with the news of Your saving power and Your eternal plan for all mankind.”Ps. 67:2 (LB)


b  A solemn charge to tell the truth (see Joshua 7:19)

[1]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

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