The Mission of the Church – Part 2
The Church’s Mission is the announcement of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ which is proof of God’s victory over the powers of darkness and that the Age to Come (Heaven) has begun.
The Church’s mission needs to encompass some broad themes: evangelism, discipleship, justice, and beauty, the miraculous
1. EVANGELISM = The announcement of the King and His Kingdom
The normative approach to the integration of people into a religious community has looked like one of two ways:
A. Behave > Believe > Belong
Once Christendom was established in AD 320 the way into the church looked like this.
You have to act like us and then you will be accepted.
Then you have to believe what we do.
And once you do this you will be acceptable and we will let you belong (if you keep living rightly).
B. Believe > Behave > Belong
They have to Believe (the right things i.e. that Jesus is the son of God, died for my sins), then behave (this will change the way you live the way we do) and then they will belong.
C. Belong > Believe > Behave
When Jesus associated himself with sinners, when He went to parties where prostitutes were present, when He broke bread with immoral women around Him Jesus turned these two approaches on their head.
It wasn’t that he condoned sin, rather He didn’t make it conditional on His embracement of them.
Josh McDowell discovered a person’s behaviour is based on his/her values. But where do the values come from? From beliefs. And where do beliefs originate?
“I struggled with this for years, and then, one day it came to me. What causes a young person to believe is relationships. Relationships lead to beliefs. Beliefs form our values. Our values drive our behaviour.”
It is not that repenting from sins and saying the sinners prayer isn’t important, it is, but people need to experience God’s kindness (that’s belonging) before they are willing to repent (i.e. believe, because repentance is actually changing how we think). And when we change how we think then our behaviour follows suit.
“I am constantly aware of your unfailing love (relationship) and I have lived according to your truth (behaviour).” (Ps. 26:3)
2. DISCIPLESHIP = Jesus called disciples to make disciples
Jesus invited His disciples to take up His Yoke: Matthew 11.
Come under His revelation.
Jesus seems to be a type of rabbi believed to have s’mikhah or authority to make new interpretations.
If you followed the trailer rabbinical teaching back far enough, you would go back to a kind of exceptional Rabbi who had reached such a stature that they conferred the authority to make new interpretations of the text.
The ceremony of giving s’mikhah would involve two Rabbis already with s’mikhah who would place their hands on the new Rabbi, thus vouching for their exceptional competence.
Only a handful had been given authority (today “ordination”) and could make new interpretations and pass legal judgments. Crowds were amazed because Jesus taught with authority (Hebrew s’mikhah, Greek exousia) not as their Torah teachers (Matt. 7:28-29).
He was questioned about where he got His authority (Matt. 21:23-27).
John the Baptist and God confirmed Jesus’ s’mikhah at His baptism.
Rabbis invited people to learn to keep the Torah. This was called taking “the yoke of Torah” or “the yoke of the kingdom of heaven”. Rabbi’s with s’mikhah would have a new interpretation or yoke. Torah teachers would teach the accepted interpretations or yoke of their community. Jesus’ invitation to those who listened to many teachers and interpretations helps establish him as a Rabbi who would present an interpretation that was easy and light (to understand not necessarily to do) (Matt. 13:11-30). As such, he was probably not speaking to unsaved people burdened with sin but people unsure of the many interpretations they heard in the dynamic religious debate in Galilee.
Jesus told his disciples that they had the power to bind and loose.
And then he told his disciples to make more disciples.
Who would continue to bind and loose.
Don’t believe me, read Acts 15.
Matthew is doing something never before heard of.
Matthew is arguing that people in the “Jesus movement” would be given authority to make decisions about what is right and wrong, what is allowed and not allowed.
How could they? They would have to know the heart of God.
3. JUSTICE (putting things to rights in the community)
Jesus’ resurrection signalled that the Age to come had started.
After a major war the work of rebuilding begins. Reconstruction. Bringing order back into the decimated systems.
“Part of the task of the church must be to take up that sense of injustice, to bring it to speech, to help people articulate it and, when they are ready to do so, to turn it into prayer. And the task then continues with the church’s work with the whole local community, to foster programs for better housing, schools, and community facilities, to encourage new job opportunities, to campaign and cajole and work with local government and councils, and, in short, to foster hope at any and every level.” (Wright 2008:231)
We are called to stand against the injustices of the old order of the world and say that it has no place in God’s world.
We are called to stand for the plight of the widows, the children and the orphans.
People groups who are most at risk.
4. BEAUTY = Giving expression to the reality of his world.
“Every act of love, gratitude, and kindness; every work of art or music inspired by the love of God and delight in the beauty of his creation; every minute spent teaching a severely handicapped child to read or to walk; every act of care and nurture, of comfort and support, for one’s fellow nonhuman creatures; and of course every prayer, all Spirit-led teaching, every deed that spreads the gospel, builds up the church, embraces and embodies holiness rather than corruption, and makes the name of Jesus honored in the world – all of this will find its way, through the resurrecting power of God, into the new creation that God will one day make. That is the logic of the mission of God.”
5. THE MIRACULOUS
Jesus made the miraculous central to the work of the Mission of the Church.
The Spirit was a sign that the new age had dawned.
who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age
He was the bringer of life – the new life.
Jesus put His spirit in them and upon them.
Other Sermons In This Series
February 14, 2018