Ordinary people – people with problems and faults and stubborn habits and personal weakness – can be used mightily in the mission of God, because it’s not about their abilities to do things for God, but about His ability to work through them.
Tim Keller says, “Jesus’ miracles did not merely show off the naked fact of Jesus’ power; they revealed the redemptive purpose of His power.”
We think of missionaries as God’s “super servants,” Jesus’ Navy Seals. The word “missionary” is never used in the Bible, however, not even once. That’s because all of God’s people are sent; all of God’s people are commanded to go. There is no “special class” of sent ones. So the question is no longer if we are sent, only where and how. Many of us are waiting on a voice from heaven to tell us what God has already told us in a verse: “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21). When you have the verse, you don’t need to wait for the voice.
God has to take our eyes off our kingdom before He can build His.
Ministry, you see, is a great place for guys with the idol of success to hide, because we can mask our selfish ambition in the cloak of doing great things for God.
Motivation for mission grows out of deep, personal experience with the gospel. When we are amazed at the grace God showed in saving us, going to great lengths to save others seems an insignificant thing. We yearn to see the glory of our saving God spread throughout the earth and others find in Christ what we have found… Everything in the Christian life grows out of the gospel. Thus, the deeper you and your people go in the gospel, the higher you will soar in the mission.
The gospel is not just the A-B-Cs of Christianity; it is the A through Z. Every virtue of the Christian life grows out of the deeper experience in the gospel. Spiritual growth happens not by going beyond the gospel, but going deeper into it.
The Great Commission is not a calling for some; it is a mandate for all… When it comes to a calling, we don’t need a voice; we have a verse (Mt. 28:19). It is now our responsibility, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, to evaluate how we are best suited to fulfill that call… We…see every member of our church as a potential missionary to be equipped and mobilized. Our goal is not to send some, or even our best, but to send all into the mission – to our city, across the country, or to the other side of the world.
We should not allow people to see the church as a weekly service they attend to make God happy. The gathering of the church is preparation for heavenly battle. We “huddle together” for a few minutes each week to worship God together and build each other up so that each of us can more effectively run the “missional play” throughout the week.
Real leaders are not those who simply get the job done. “Doing something well” does not a leader make. “Empowering others to do it well” does.
Our works don’t replace the verbal preaching of the gospel, but in them we demonstrate, tangibly, the love and grace that we proclaim with our mouths. Effective gospel preaching is explaining with our words what we demonstrate with our lives. In our service, we make visible the invisible Christ.
Discipleship is going from “mission field” to “missionary.”
We don’t serve to convert; we serve because we are converted.
The good news is that making disciples is fairly easy. You simply bring people along in your spiritual journey. Making disciples is more about intentionality than technique: Discipleship means teaching others to read the Bible the way you read it, pray the way you pray, and tell people about Jesus the way you do. If you have Christian habits in your life worth imitating, you can be a disciple-maker. It doesn’t require years of training. You just teach others to follow Christ as you follow Him.
But God’s goal is not simply to have us stop looking down on other races. God wants unity, not just a ceasing of hostilities. He wants the very makeup of His church to preach the gospel: that despite our racial variants we are united under one ancestor, Adam; that we had one problem, sin; and that we have one hope, salvation in Christ. He wants us to demonstrate to the world that this unity in Christ is weightier than anything that might divide us. When the Holy Spirit confronted Peter’s racism, he didn’t just command him to quit looking down on other races. He commanded Peter to embrace Cornelius, to go in and eat with him. Peter did not go from “racist” to “non-racist”; he went from “racist” to “gracist.”
We sometimes use the analogy of beef stew to illustrate how we think racial diversity will play out in our church. We don’t want to be a bag of marbles, where each culture exists side by side in a congregation but with interpenetration with the others. We also don’t want to be a melting pot, however, where each culture loses its distinctive flavor. If you mix a hundred different paint colors together, you end up with a dull gray. We want the church to be like beef stew, where each element retains its basic consistency but “flavors” the others, too. That’s cheeky, for sure, but it helps us picture what racial diversification might look like in a local body.
We want our facilities to communicate that Jesus’ commission was not to build a gigantic monument to Him made out of bricks and mortar. He commissioned us to reach the world. Buildings are only facilities. Facilities facilitate the mission. They are only tools – means to the end – not the end itself.
[God] did not come up with a mission for His church as much as He formed a church for His mission… If a church is not engaging in mission, it really has no point in existing.
A spiritual gift is usually just a special empowerment – an unusual effectiveness – in an assignment given to all believers.
In the Bible we find no gap between the call to follow Jesus and the call to engage in mission.