Saturday, 9 February 2013
Extending God’s Kingdom through Mission
The mission statement of Exeter Temple Corps is:
“The Salvation Army in Exeter exists to please God and make Jesus known.”
Why do Christians feel the need to share their faith with others when they appear quite happy with their status as a non-believer?
If we believed that faith was simply a lifestyle choice, then we could leave it at that and would feel no compulsion at all to feel it necessary to advertise the advantages of following Jesus or of pointing out the disadvantages of rejecting him.
Why do we spend so much energy sharing our faith, or feeling guilty about not doing it, why do we examine the reasons for our failure to lead other people to adopt our faith and find it so rewarding and exhilarating when someone says they want to join us?
It is because we believe we have:
The word gospel means “good news” It is not like so called local news that is boring, not that important and nothing much to do with us. Rather it is as Romans 1 v 16 says “the power of God for our salvation.”
CS Lewis: “Christianity if false is of no importance and if true is of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”
This Jesus story is history changing, world impacting, with cosmic implications for every person on the planet of whatever race and in every generation.
Whilst life on earth can be amazing and wonderful it can also be the most troubled, harshest and disturbing of places. Man’s inhumanity to man, the rampant greed and selfishness lead us to fear that this earth might be on a collision course to complete destruction. The Bible claims that this sense that something has gone wrong with a good world is down to the response of humanity to a choice God gave them.
Genesis 1:26 tells us that human beings were given the job of being site managers of the earth, under the authority of the Creator. However, when given the chance of staging a take-over bid, human beings could not resist the chance of having the power and freedom to do what they liked.
It was a choice based upon a delusion that the power that humans had over the rest of creation was in-built rather than something that was channelled through them when they were in harmony with God. It is rather like thinking an electrical plug is the source of power for an appliance, whereas it is only of use when it is connected to the mains supply.
God’s answer to this collapse is not to abandon the world but to offer a plan of restoration, through Jesus Christ. He is the power of God for our salvation. The plan was to send his Son to become a man. Jesus who was both God and man did not rebel against God in any way. As he did not sin so he did not need to suffer the same consequence of a broken relationship with God as the rest of us. Neither did he have to face either physical or spiritual death. Yet the incredible plan of Hof is that this beloved son should choose to suffer those things on our behalf, letting us go free and reconnecting us to God again.
And having availed ourselves of this we discover not just a legal turn around in our position before God but a new and wonderful restored relationship with God, which brings peace and indescribable joy.
Having heard the good news, having proved that it is true, how can we help but share it with others?
We share it because:
Jesus sends us
Matthew 28:18-20 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
That sense of being sent by God to share a message from him makes all the difference to our confidence in sharing it. Have you ever been in the dilemma where you know something and you are dying to discuss it with someone but it’s not your news to share?
We have no worries on that score with the gospel. The verse above tells us that it is our news to share, with anyone.
Paul was not on a one-man mission. In Romans 1:8 Paul recognises that his readers are also engaged in sharing their faith. “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you because your faith is being reported all over the world.” It is not only super-star Christians who are sent by Jesus to share the Good News.
E Wilson Carlisle said, “Evangelism is the perpetual task of the whole Church not the peculiar hobby of certain of its members.”
We bother because of our
Passion for God and the lost
The Christian’s motivation is that they love Jesus and love others so we want to arrange an introduction to Jesus.
Loving Jesus means that we long to see Jesus name be honoured and lifted up.
We long to see that he is given the respect and the honour that we believe is due to him. We want to promote him. Our hearts should be grieved that his name is derided and ignored in our world. We care about the things that he cares about.
Loving Jesus means we also love the lost.
The Bible also shows us that there is a consequent connection between loving God and loving people. Do you still believe that without the gospel people are not just missing out on a good thing but that they are lost? You will never get passionate about evangelism if you your hope of heaven is not accompanied by a belief in the consequence of an eternity without Christ.
William Booth used to say that if you wanted to motivate Christians for mission a trip to hell for the day would do more good than years on evangelism training courses.
The letter to the Romans is not just an academic study. Paul’s love for them is real. In Romans 1:8-13 Paul pours out his heart about his love for the people to whom he is writing. v 13 “I want to have a harvest among you just as I have had among the other Gentiles.”
William Barclay says of Paul that he was “haunted by the people outside of the Church.”
Jesus himself reveals what his heart is for the lost in his parables or the lost coin, the lost sheep and the lost son. He will go to any lengths to bring them home.
A passion for evangelism is not stirred by stoking up emotions or sending people on a guilt trip but is kindled by receiving the heart of Christ for the lost. It is not found by striving but through receiving.
Romans 5:5 “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us.”
“Why do Christians share their faith? Perhaps the questions should be, “Why don’t Christians share their faith with others more? They do not always seem focussed on the task that Jesus himself has given them to reach out with the good news
General John Larsson “Because the Salvation Army is a permanent mission to the unconverted the corps as a whole and each of its constituent parts must give its priority to evangelism. This is easily lost sight of in the day to day life of a corps. It is probably true that for many Salvationists corps life consists of going to meetings and a series of practices.”
If we have any sense of compassion we must let others know about the possibility of spending eternity separated from our Father, never knowing the completeness of a restored relationship with him.
We do not try to extend through mission to keep up our membership, in order that our Salvation Army club does not die out.
Romans 1:5 reveals Paul’s secret, “Through him and for his name’s sake we received grace and apostleship to call people.”
It is for Christ’s name sake, and for the compassionate love that his name stands for that we reach out. And it is through him and only him that we have any hope of growing and bearing fruit for the kingdom.
God bless Carol