The Core of Missions
Today is the last day for our “Core series” and we’ve been going through a baseball diamond. By the way, if you are a Yankees fan, I’m sorry about yesterday. There’s a baseball diamond and we’ve been using this as a way to shape an identity of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. What it is for our church family to really go after our win in Christ, why we even gather on Sundays, what that means for us. We’ve used those four topics around the basesball diamond to discuss those things.
We’ve gone through the idea of what it means to worship the Lord and how in worshiping God, it leads us to diving deeper and growing deeper in Him, which is discipleship. Which inevitably will affect our relationships in this world. It starts with fellowship and as God’s community and impacts a broader relational perspective in life. And then it really leads us to live life on mission.
One of the things I pointed out about these topics as we’ve gone through them, is that they are not disconnected from one another, but rather interconnected to each other. And as we start the foundation, all of this is worship. As we engage God in worship, these things become a natural outflow in the way God directs our lives. Worship inevitably will lead to missions.
As you love Jesus, you’ll love the things that Jesus loves. And Jesus gave the two greatest commands: to love God and love others. And so as we love Jesus, we start to love the things that God loves. God gives us a passion for people and demonstrating our love for the Lord in this world around us. And it will impact our relationships and it will lead us to live life on a particular pursuit in our love for Jesus, which is what living on mission is all about.
You realign your life in Christ and it transforms the perspective in which you live life. No longer about yourself, but in surrender to Christ for the reason which he created you. We said in the beginning, we are created as worshipful beings and what we acknowledged is that it is impossible not to worship something. Inevitably you will worship. But what God created you for in making it as a worshipful being is to centralize that worship in him because you’re also created for relationship. When God created you, he formed you intimately for a relationship in Him that would last for eternity. And it’s through that relationship that it begins to impact our lives, which is why Jesus said the greatest two commands are to love the Lord your God and to love others.
In loving Jesus, I think God grows our passion for people to carry that same love that Christ carries for others. And I think as we walk with Christ, sometimes the Lord shapes that passion in different ways. Maybe in different areas. Maybe it’s in evangelism, discipleship. I think we should all do those things, but God shapes us in different ways, whether it’s to a particular type of ministry or a particular type of cause or to a particular type of people. I think God shapes passion in us, for people because of him. So it’s to his glory, but it’s for the benefit of others.
And so inevitably worship leads us to mission. And in turn, mission leads us back to worship. As we live in pursuit of Christ in this world, others come to know him and in turn start to worship him. So worship leads to mission and mission leads to worship. And I should also say mission in itself, living your life in pursuit of Christ that impacts life around you. That in itself is an act of worship.
Hudson Taylor, one of the great missionaries for China, as he walked with the Lord he said this, in talking about his work in China. He said, “If I had a thousand pounds, china’s should have it. And if I had a thousand lives, China should have them. No, not China, but Christ.” What Hudson Taylor is acknowledging that ultimately what he does and living his life on mission inevitably is to the glory of God. It’s for Jesus. It’s motivated behind Christ in this pursuit of Christ. But it’s to the benefit of people. And the way that God has shaped his passion was for China.
One of the things in walking with Jesus in my own life that I desired from the Lord just to do in me as I pursued him, knowing that God was leading me and I was going to go into ministry, my prayer became exactly that quote of Hudson Taylor. I read about him early on in my Christian faith and I said, God, that’s what I want. I want a place like that where if I had a thousand lives, Lord, I would, I would give it all for the people to know you.
Truth is wherever you live, that is your mission. So being a part of Utah and we’re joining each other in that cause, God has you here for a reason, to know him and to make him known.
Hudson Taylor as director of the China Inland Mission, which was the organization he led. He said he would often interview candidates for the mission field. And on one occasion he met with a group of applicants to determine their motivation for serving. Why do you wish to go be a foreign missionary, he asked one. And they said, I want to go because Christ had commanded us to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. And the other said, I want to go because millions are perishing without Christ. Others gave different answers. And Hudson Taylor said this, “All of these motives, however good, will fail you in times of testing, trials and tribulations. And possibly even death. There is but one motivation that will sustain you in trial, namely the love of Christ.”
And today in knowing that we’re going to talk about mission, I want us to understand that these thoughts that we’ve shared together over the last four weeks, these are interconnected. And that living life on mission, just for the sole purpose of living on mission, divorces itself from the motivation behind it all. And Hudson Taylor drove that home in questioning these individuals that wanted to go into a foreign field. That the thing that constrains us, the thing that compels us in all of this, isn’t mission in itself. But the inspiration behind it all, which is worship and relationship to God.
In fact, probably one of the more famous books written over the last 20 years as it relates to mission was John Piper’s book, “Let the Nations be Glad,” and this is what he says. He said, “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship does not. Worship is ultimate. When this age is over and the countless millions of the redeem fall on their faces because of the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity.” And so what he’s saying in this story I’ve mapped out for us that all of these are interconnected, but the foundational thought behind all of these words that we’ve isolated and discuss together. The thing that compels them begins in worship.
And so as we talk about this thought of missions this morning, it’s to recognize that what compels us in this, it starts in your relationship to Christ. And that’s through that God calls us to pierce the darkness. The Gospel is, as Paul says in Romans 1, is dynamite.
We’ve looked together at Matthew 16:18, in fact, where it says, Jesus will build his church and the gates of hell will not overpower it. Literally, you’ll storm it down. You will pierce the darkness. You will overcome the gates that God has built his church to live in triumph. And so we’ve even painted the picture that God has created his kingdom, his authority for his purpose. Genesis 1, he speaks, it exists. And at the end of revelation, we see God restores all things in him. Revelation 2:1-5, there’s no more pain, no more suffering. And here we are in this middle where sin is destroying. And God calls his people to pierce this darkness.
So when I say mission, and I think in our church culture today, by and large, that idea of living on mission is somewhat romanticized. Now, I think it’s a beautiful thing. At the same time when you use the word “mission” and understanding what God has called us too, it also involves sacrifice. Laying yourself down. I can only be compelled by a love for God that runs deeper then that would you give up.
In fact, CT Stud was a missionary late 1800’s in the early 1900’s, he was a world renowned cricket player. In his mid twenties he gave up that arena of life and just became a missionary. I’m thinking about what God has called his church to in this world. He says this, some ways to live within the sound of church or chapel bell. I want to run a rescue
shop within a yard of hell. If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for him. CT Stud understood what it meant to live on mission. You know, in order to live that out faithfully as Christians, one of the things I think becomes essential for our lives is to always remember why.
Why would you sacrifice? Why would you lay yourself down? Why would you pursue such a cause? The reminder for the answer of why becomes the motivation for what you do. The thought of worship is the place where we connect our hearts to why. Who we are, What God has created me as, in Him. Why?
Why becomes a central question to living out the life in which God has called us to. In fact, Paul battles with this very thought in 1 Corinthians 9:24, he says this, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize. Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the game exercises self control in all the things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore, I run in such a way as not without aim. I boxed in such a way as not beating the air, but I my discipline, my body and make it my slave. So that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”
What Paul is inevitably saying here is that you know the Lord has called him to live this life in pursuit of him. And, and we will look at the Apostle Paul and say, no one has probably had a greater impact at all of Christian Christian history than the Apostle Paul has had. And he is acknowledging, in himself, there is still a war taking place, a warship war. In which his flesh can win the battle over the spirit that’s been set free in Jesus. And so in that battle in his life, there is a need to continually to remind himself why. Why he does what he does. How he can easily get off kilter in what he’s living his life in pursuit of. And so rather than do it aimlessly, he wants to live his life on purpose.
So he structures his life in such a way to remind him of why he’s living in pursuit of what he’s doing. It says if the Apostle Paul found a place in his life that it was necessary to do, what do we do? I think in in my own life, there is a place that I often go to
just to clear my head, to put things into perspective. There’s actually a couple places where I just think about what God has done in me and through me and how he is called me and I consider the value in which we live. And it just gives me clarity to, to continue to pursue the calling that God has on my life. And in looking at the way that Paul has has pursued that same thing in his life.
Why? One of the things I love to do is to get up on the top of the mountains in our area and just look over our valley. To reflect. When I became a Christian, reminding myself of exactly what it took for Jesus to love me. In perspective to other people may be, I would consider myself and depending on who it is, I don’t know, maybe not compete with Mother Teresa in this, but just saying, “Yeah, I’m not that difficult to love, (just don’t ask my wife), but I’m not that difficult to love. If everyone would be more like me then they would be easier to love too. So just be more like me.
But it’s when I align my life with exactly what it took Jesus, in order to love someone as difficult as I really am, if I’m being honest. Christ gave his alive. That is not a cheap love extended. God loves people, created in his image, to know him and to enjoy him for all eternity. And in love for Jesus and seeing how he has loved me and lavished that love in the midst of my sin, in the midst of my brokenness. That he had no reason to pursue me. He still pursues me. It’s that love and understanding that it compels me to love others that same way around me. Not because they’re worthy of it, but because Jesus is.
Why do I do what I do? Why do you do what you do? And we get on top of these mountains and looking at our valley? And it just helps them put things in perspective. And when it comes to knowing Christ, it is essential for the Christian life as it relates to worship.
And in fact, let me just say this this morning. I don’t want any labels. No, religious identity, let’s just say were just people this morning. No religious whatever background, just you, I’m just talking to you. And just think about the centrality of Jesus. When you consider the essential nature of knowing Christ and in comparison to scriptures, let me just read this verse. It says in Matthew 7:22, this is Jesus talking. He’s talking about many. Many will say. Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name cast out demons and in your name perform many miracles. And then Jesus says, I will declare to them, not not me, but Jesus will declare to them, I never knew you. Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.
So Jesus is saying, many will say this. And Jesus is saying, depart from me, from you who practice lawlessness. So notice in Chapter 7:22, the type of person that’s being described here from a cultural perspective, we would say this individual is good. He’s good.
When you get to Jesus’ description of the very same individual that would be labeled as good, inverse 23. The way Jesus chooses to label him is a person of lawlessness. Now, when you look at the lifestyle that this individual lived, we wouldn’t say this individual is one of rebellion. In fact, he’s under the label of good as far as culture is concerned.
Why is he lawless? Jesus tells us, I never knew you. Relationship, the reason for which we were created. That’s why I say, when you consider this for just a moment, this passage of scripture, putting a label on yourself for just a moment. Some of us might wear the hat of Christian. But let me just say, without trying to be rude, but just being honest. Who cares? Lots of people wear that label. Lots of people claim to be Christian. Lots of people in fact have a belief in a Jesus. But can I tell you, it doesn’t make it Jesus. Jesus is saying to these individuals, I never knew you. So it’s not the label that makes your identity. It’s where you are in Christ.
So the essential question becomes who is Jesus? Not whether or not you’re a Christian. You can wear the Christian label all day long and still not pursue Jesus. And Jesus is saying that’s lawlessness. Because Jesus came to give his life that we may know him. And so regardless of where you are in life, even if someone comes through our door on Sunday morning and says, I’m a Christian, that’s not where the discussion ends. In fact, I wouldn’t even begin it there. Who is Jesus?
In 2 Corinthians 11 in fact, the Apostle Paul said it like this, “For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit with whom you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.” So he’s saying to the church, you’re standing up against this, because different people are coming in saying this is the Gospel and it’s not the Gospel. Saying this is Jesus and it’s not Jesus. In fact, do you realize every major religion in the world has a teaching about Jesus? Islam teaches about Jesus. They call him a prophet. They’ve got no problem with that. That doesn’t make it Jesus.
Somebody can tell you this morning, “Hey, do you know Nathaniel? He’s the purple elephant that lives down the street.” You can be like, “Well you may call that Nathaniel,, but that’s not Nathaniel. I’ve seen Nathaniel. He walks around limping today because his ankle hurts.”
But what I’m saying is just because you call it Jesus doesn’t make it Jesus. In fact, Jesus identifies the central nature of that. And so when we call our ourselves into worship, Paul is calling us to align our lives with this thought and answering the question why you do what you do. And let me just put it into perspective. Who Jesus is is central to the Christian faith, not the label of Christian, but your identity in Christ. And Paul’s trying to get that across to the believers in these passages.
And Jesus is trying to get that across in Matthew 7. Because when you think about our valley, one of the things that helps us put things into perspective is just how significant it is if you belong to Jesus, that you are here with us. And what God can do through your life in this place. One of the things I I love to do, I get up on the mountains and I just think statistically about what it means, that there is a light here to emanate as Christ works through us. I do stats on our valley all the time, but over 600,000 people in our county. One church that communicates what I think is the Biblical picture of Jesus found in scripture. One Church for every 22,000 people. There are still eight towns in this county that have never had that what I would say is a mainstream Christian church. Teaching what I would say Paul is arguing for in 2 Corinthians 11.
54 people die in Utah every day. 53 of them do not hold to Jesus in this way. In our county, 600,000 people and just over 3000 claimed to be a follower of this picture of Jesus, which is being painted. Meaning the true Biblical perspective of Christ. When you think about the significance of what Paul’s saying here, why do you do what you do? Why? Because of Christ. Because God’s got me in a place that the eternal difference that can be made. The way I can live as light. It’s beautiful before the Lord. And so Paul’s saying, 1 Corinthians 9, he’s buffeting his body to this perspective. Because he can get derailed in his worship and his pursuits in life. But he wants to align it with what God has called him to. And then he answers the question how? How do you do that?
In 1 Corinthians 9:19, just a few verses before, he explains how. He says this, “For though I am free from all men,” Paul’s not obligated to anybody. Jesus has set him free and he belongs to him. So he says, “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself,” look at this heavy word, “I have made myself a slave to all so that I may win more. To the Jew, I became as a Jew, that I might win the Jew. To those who are without the law, as without the law, though not being without the law of God but under the Law of Christ so that I may win those who are without the law. To the weak, I became weak that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the Gospel so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.”
How do you do a Paul? If you align your life in Christ and worship, wanting to make a difference in this world, how do you it? Paul says, whatever it takes short of sin to reach people. I’m willing to become all things to all people for the sake of the Gospel. I don’t walk into the church of God’s people and tell them what they need to do to serve me better. I myself call myself a slave for the sake of the Gospel. It’s about me laying myself down as Christ has laid himself down for me. I do this by understanding the people groups around me and the needs of those groups, whether it’s Jew or weak or strong or rich or poor or Gentile. I become all things to all men for the sake of the Gospel.
In Christianity as individuals, we tend to fall under two categories as we try to live out this faith that are unhealthy. At some point we might gather the perspective of the outside world as bad, church is fortress, hunker down and hide. And we just ignore the fact that God says his church will prevail over the gates of hell. That you’ll pierce the darkness. That the Gospel has power. And so we create programs for ourselves to serve ourselves. We have no relation to the outside world because it’s bad. We don’t want to get that on us.
And then you got on the other side of the legalistics perspective, you have this, this liberal perspective and they’re more interested in and in the love. Let’s just love part than they are the truth part. And so in that and that love part, which is important. People and love and relationship are important. But it becomes the primary motivation to their lives. Where they’re more interested in what people think about them than what people think about Jesus.
Now, I’m not saying go around and offend people. I think what’s important for the church is to understand that the only offense that people should discover within the community of Christ is the Gospel. That’s what Paul’s saying here. I want to make it hard for people to hate me. I want to love them so deeply with such compassion that the only thing that they find in conflict with us is the Gospel. The Bible tells us it’s a stumbling point, but when you think about liberal Christianity, more interested in what people think about them then what they think about Jesus. And they, in a sense, lost the power of the Gospel. Both groups. Legalists, afraid of the power of the Gospel, which compares the darkness, Liberals, afraid of the power of the Gospel and more interest in what people think about them.
Then there’s the disciple. The disciple understands exactly what Paul’s saying here. God has called you on mission to pierce the darkness, spurred from worship and relationship to him that compels you in relationship to others. To live your life for a new pursuit, not for yourself and your glory, but for God’s.
That’s a disciple. And walking that path, knowing these two pitfalls in liberalism and legalism, these pits cause us to live in this tension in our lives. And that tension I think was lived beautifully in the example of Christ and that is this: to earnestly contend for the faith to stand for something. As Paul says here, become all things to all people. Jesus did that masterfully. You watch in Christ’s life as Christ interacts with people, it tells us that he was the friend of drunkards and sinners and tax collectors. What the rest of the society would say, “No, thank you. I’m gonna invite my good friends to the party.” Jesus is friends with them. And Jesus loves them and they know Jesus cares for them deeply. And you know what Jesus never did in loving them? He never compromise the truth. And in this tension in his life, he managed to bridge those worlds together beautifully.
You think of the woman at the well in John 4. A woman the rest of the society pushed away. And Jesus shows up next to the well and he loves her. And he loves her enough to share the truth with her. When we consider this as a church, this gives us a wonderful place to do this is what Paul’s saying here in 1 Corinthians 9:19, becoming all things to all people. Because this is what it says for the church.
I’ve made this argument for us as we looked at Acts 2. I said, when you look in the New Testament, there is no outline for exactly how a church service or church gathering is supposed to go. It tells us about particular things they involved in a gathering, but nothing specific. Because God gives the church flexibility to be relevant to its culture. Which is why if you worship here at ABC, it might look different than the way we worship in Africa or Asia. There’s different ways God speaks into his culture. And what I mean for you is God gives you the freedom to figure out how to leverage the culture, to speak in the lives of others. That everything God created is amoral. It’s what you do with it that determines whether or not it’s used for God’s glory.
The Internet is not evil. It’s what you do with it that determines if it’s evil or not. Money’s not evil. It’s what you do with it that terms if it’s evil or not. Sex and sexuality is not evil. It’s what you do with it. God gives you a place in culture to leverage the culture, to the benefit of people, but for the glory of God. And what he’s saying in this passage is that when he understands the perspective of the Gospel, he’s doing everything short of sin in order to reach that heart for Christ.
Some people I’ve heard argue, “What’s the purpose in the gathering of the church then? If the church is about reaching the world. The church is really the only organization or group of people that exist for something beyond itself, because if all Jesus was interested in was just saving you, he would have taken you out of this world the moment you came to know him. But the church is called on mission to reach this world.
But what’s the gathering of the church for? Do we gather together for the believer or the unbeliever? There’s a actually a debate in Christianity over that. Do we gather on Sunday in order to disciple the believer, or do we gather on Sunday in order to reach the lost? I think in asking that question, we’re positioning two things against each other, of which we shouldn’t. Because this is what I think. Ultimately, I think when the church gathers, the purpose behind our gathering is to encourage and disciple the believer, to launch them into the world, to impact the lives of people around.
But one of the best places to teach the church how to make an impact in the lives of people around you is by living here as we gather together to make an impact in the lives of people around us. Which means anyone that comes through our door, we are going to love them deeply. We care for them. Hey, if you’re here for the first time on Sunday, we love you. And if you’re here for the like the thousandth time on Sunday, I don’t know if we’ve had that many Sundays, but we love you. We learn as God’s family how to treat people. And so like it or not, on Sunday, yes, we gather for the believers to equip the believers, but a part of equipping the believers as to how we treat anybody.
So it’s both and. But when we talk about this gathering of the church, God gives us the flexibility to articulate and live out things in order to speak into our current culture and leverage the culture to best communicate to it. I mean that’s why we have TV screens. You guys are addicted. It’s a part of our culture. 200 years ago they’d be blown away by this. But now it’s like natural to us. Get a nice little bulletin with some pretty little banners. It all speak to our culture. It’s about being relevant.
I don’t think we have to be trendy. Trendy is exhausting. Trendy goes out of style too quick. But relevance is important. And when you understand the audience of what you’re speaking to, like Paul with the Jews. And use that as an opportunity to better speak into their hearts.
One of the things that blew me away, I was reading this week this book called, “From Pews the Podcasts,” and they were talking about the development of the church in history. I didn’t even think about this until I read it, but apparently chairs and pews didn’t exist in the church until the 1400’s. So really the first two thirds of Christian history, there was nowhere to sit when you gathered. I’m all in favor of keeping the new tradition up. It’s worked for the last 700 years. I tried to think, what would that be like if we didn’t have chairs anymore? I feel like we’re best serving people by chairs this morning, by the way. Just so you know, I’m not making any motion to get rid of chairs. But whoever thought that up 1400 years ago, they were brilliant.
Thank you, whoever it was that invented that. We’re Americans and we like our comfort. I feel like we are kindred spirits of whoever that was 1400 years ago, they came up with that. But that’s the church developing ways in order to better speak into it’s culture.
Now I’ll tell you, some of the things that we do aren’t always wise. Because one of the things they lost when they put chairs in the church in the 1400’s was their connectedness. What I mean is I’ll tell you as a church, when we sit here on Sunday and you’re sitting in your rows, it’s difficult for us to use our gifts to interact with one another. It’s when we get in circles that we’re able to do that.
When the early church met for the first 1400 years, what they would do when they walk in the room is they would get together in clusters. They would encourage each other. They find out what’s going on in each other’s lives. They would pray for one another. I mean today it’s like I come in, I get my seat, and then the first one out the door is the first one out of a parking lot and it’s less busy. I can get to a place I want eat first. So it’s like wham, bam, thank you, I’m out of here, whatever.
But chairs change some of that. And so it’s not all healthy. But the point is is people are approaching their culture to discover how they could best speak in the lives of others. And the church has the freedom to do that. And Paul is encouraging us in this. That when your heart’s sold out to God, that you lay your life down, you begin to ask the question just as Christ pursued you, how can you leverage what God has given you to speak into the lives of others?
The reality is, if not you then who? Paul said this in Romans 10. Paul was a Jew talking about the Jews. He said, brother my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is for their salvation. And I love the way he describes them here in verse two. “For I testify about them, that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.” And they talk about God, but it’s not the God as we saw in Matthew 7. “So for not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” So Paul’s saying, the reason I’m engaged this way is because this is where my heart is. I care about them because Jesus has shaped my heart in this way to care about others. And so this has become my prayer. It’s such a central part of me.
If not you then who? If you’re a Christian belonging in Utah, and I’m telling you like 600,000 people in this county. And there’s just over 3,000 who claim to follow this, Jesus, if not you, then who? Do you realize in our area of the world, there are less Christians in our area of the world than the entire Western Hemisphere. Of all other places in the Western Hemisphere, lowest percentage here. Countries in Islamic ran states, some of them have higher percentages of Christians. That makes you matter. If not you then who?
In fact, Paul took this thought a little bit further and he said this. Some say, this is just specifically talking about the Jews. I don’t necessarily agree with that because in verse 13 he’s talking about Jew and Gentile, but he says this, Romans 10:14, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in him and who they have not heard? How will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it’s written, how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things.”
Now Paul’s quoting from Isaiah, that last verse, but he describes it as beautiful. You know all of the things in the world that we might call beautiful as people, have you ever considered what God might call beautiful? It says in this verse, how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news, good things. This word for beautiful is actually the word for blossom.
Some of you have probably started raking in your leaves. I look at it, and maybe next week. But the leaves are falling. Things are getting ugly. And you’re going to go through this period of time where you hunker down in your house and you beg for Vitamin D again. And just to feel warmth on your face. And then all of a sudden one day you’ll walk outside and the green leaves, will be back and you’ll see your flowers. And you’ll be like, “It’s so good! It’s beautiful.” And that’s what Paul is describing the life of the believer here. That seasonal life where things start the bod and then vegetations on the ground to this agricultural society. How beautiful that is to you. That’s what God’s saying. How beautiful it becomes to go full circle with this. To worship and into discipling, growing in the relationship that impacts the world is so beautiful.
Let me end with these section of verses. 2 Timothy 2. Paul writes this last letter before he gives his life as a martyr. And Paul knows his life’s coming to an end and he wants to write one last letter to the next generation. He writes to Timothy. And his pursuit, his desire is just to see that next generation live out their faith in Christ. And in chapter two verse 22 he starts to share with Timothy how to do this in a way that’s successful, that makes an impact. And he says to Timothy this, he says, “Flee from youthful lusts. Pursue righteousness, faith and and peace with those who call on the Lord from pure heart. But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.”
So he’s saying to them, listen Timothy, don’t underestimate the power of God’s people living in community together, encouraging one another. Please do that. Don’t get sidetracked, he says in verse 23 but focus on this. Don’t isolate yourself as a believer. Use the body because that’s how God works powerfully is you use your giftedness for one another. And then he goes a little further as he talks about their pursuit in interaction with the world. And he says this, “The Lord’s bondservants must not be quarrelsome. But be kind to all. Able to teach. Patient when wronged. With gentleness, correcting those who are in opposition. If perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to their knowledge of the truth. And they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil having been held captive by him to do his will.”
Paul shares an approach to Timothy in this world. Not here to beat people up, but rather to meet them where they are. To love them as Christ loves them. Because that’s the way Christ loves you. To not make being a Christian the offense, but knowing that the Gospel is are already offensive enough. But to care enough about the heart to pursue it. To lay your life down as a bondservant of Christ. Why? Because that’s what he’s done for you. And as you worship him, he grows your passion for people. You recognized the place in which God has called you to live. If not you, then who?
So the Bible kind of writes this. Let me give these last few verses and we’ll tie it all together. He says this, “You were once alienated from God,” in Colossians 1. This idea of alienation literally means broken from fellowship. You have no connection to God. But in Romans 8, he says this, “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons, by which we cry Abba, father.” And so he’s saying to a believer, now put their faith in Christ. God, no longer are you separated from that intimacy, but you’ve actually been adopted. You belong. And in that intimacy you can say these words, “Abba, daddy, father.”
And so then he goes on in 2 Corinthians 5 and he encourages believers. He says this all, these are Paul’s writings. By the way, in verse 18 he says, “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” And so what he’s literally saying is, just as God has adopted you, God wants you to join in the battle of the adoption process. To look at this valley and take ownership of it. To think about your neighborhood, your streets, the people around you. To adopt it because God has adopted you. And then you’ve been given that ministry of reconciliation. So in verse 20, “As though God were making an appeal through us, we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” So he’s saying, being sent in this world, begging people, literally come beside God. Or be reconciled to him. To be a part of this healing in Christ.
So this is how I think it works as believers. We look at this perspective of this baseball diamond. We’ve seen worship and discipleship and relationship, and now mission. One of the things I don’t want to walk away with is saying, okay, as we talked about mission and now you feel all guilty about mission. And you’re going to go out and you’re just going to spew a bunch of things about Jesus to people. Because you feel like you’re obligated and you just have to do that because you were told to do that. That is not what I want. I don’t think that’s healthy. I don’t think that will endure. I don’t think it’s very loving to your relationship with Christ. Now, I think Jesus certainly wants you to share your relationship to him, but I don’t think it’s in that way where it’s just artificially feeling like you’ve been bossed around. That’s just guilt heavy, guilt ridden, not healthy for anybody.
Now this is what I think. When you come to know Jesus, you start to learn about the faith. And as you walk with Jesus, the faith starts to become your faith. To where it’s no longer talked about the faith, but now the faith in my faith have intertwined And as Jesus continues to grow me in my relationship with him, it becomes a natural outflow of my life in sharing it with others. It’s not something I have to fabricate. It’s who I am.
And so you think about mission, all of it is spurred out of worship. And so when we worship, God takes the faith and aligns it with our faith and we outflow from that a relationship with Jesus that transforms relationships around me in Christ. Why? Because it matters. God’s got you in a place for reason.
One of the things I love about the faith becoming my faith, is living in Utah, everyday I wake up, my relationship with Jesus matters. And when I connect to Christ in that relationship and I opened his word, and when I’m praying I’m interacting in such a way that the impact that God places on me can far transcend what happens in my life and can make an eternal difference in the life of others. When I wake up everyday in Christ, it matters and it matters beyond me. And my opportunity to meet with Jesus in worship matters. And it matters beyond me. And the opportunity I get in that, reminding myself why, and meeting with Christ everyday gives me a platform and a place to share with others the beauty of Christ. Not because it’s this obligation of guilt, but it becomes a natural outflow to my relationship with Jesus.
So my encouragement to you this morning as a church. To run those bases, to live in victory. To worship and laying your life down for all that Christ is.