Thursday, January 31, 2008

Seize Christ’s Mission as Your Own

Being a missionary in America is about submission to the King. Christians do not have a mission of their own. As kingdom citizens, every believer’s mission is the same. There is one mission and it is the mission of Jesus. We must be faithful to that mission. “It is imperative that Christians be like Jesus, by living freely within the culture as missionaries who are as faithful to the Father and his gospel as Jesus was in his own time and place.”1

In The Barbarian Way, Erwin McManus tells a story that is a mixture of history and legend. Those who have seen the movie Braveheart will be familiar with the characters. Robert the Bruce was the Scottish noble whose character is most remembered for betraying William Wallace, but he later rose up to lead Scotland to freedom after Wallace’s execution.

He died in 1329 at the age of 54. Shortly before his death, Robert the Bruce requested that his heart be removed from his body and taken on a crusade by a worthy knight. James Douglas, one of his closest friends, was at his bedside and took on the responsibility. The heart of Robert the Bruce was embalmed and placed in a small container that Douglas carried around his neck. In every battle that Douglas fought, he literally carried the heart of his king pressed up against his chest.

In the early spring of 1330, Douglas sailed from Scotland to Granada, Spain, and engaged in a campaign against the Moors. In an ill-fated battle, Douglas found himself surrounded, and in this situation death was both certain and imminent. In that moment Douglas reached for the heart strapped around his neck, flung the heart into the enemy’s midst, and cried out, “Fight for the heart of your king!”

One historian quoted Douglas as shouting, “FORWARD, brave heart, as ever thou were wont to do, and Douglas will follow his king’s heart or die.” The motto of the Douglas clan to which the present duke belongs is even to this day simply, “FORWARD!”2

To belong to God is to belong to His heart! If you have responded to the call of Jesus to leave everything and follow Him, then there is a voice within your heart crying out: “FORWARD! FIGHT FOR THE HEART OF YOUR KING!”

Christians must not become consumed with their own ambition. They must seize Christ’s mission as their own. They must advance the revolution that Jesus started two thousand years ago. In Matthew 26:39 Jesus submits to the Father’s will, knowing that the cross and suffering lie ahead. He prays, “I want Your will, not Mine.” Every believer needs to come to terms with whose mission it is all about.

J. Oswald Sanders relates an incredible true story of a man who had seized the mission of Jesus as his own, and the movement that followed.

The great leader Count Nikolaus von Zinzendorf (1700–1760) was tempted by rank and riches; indeed he is most widely known by the title of honor noted here. But his attitude toward ambition was summed up in one simple statement: “I have one passion; it is He, He alone.” Zinzendorf turned from self-seeking to become the founder and leader of the Moravian church. His followers learned from their leader and circled the world with his passion. Before missionary work was popular or well-organized, the Moravians established overseas churches which had three times as many members as did their churches back home—a most unusual accomplishment. Indeed, one of every ninety-two Moravians left home to serve as a missionary.3

The Church has a mission because God has a mission. There are many churches and church consultants who suggest that a local church has to develop a mission statement. Suggesting there is a need to craft such a statement only confuses the issue for many Christians. Believers do not need to discover God’s mission for their church or for their life. They simply need to embrace God’s redemptive mission as the mission of their church and the mission of their life. The Church has a mission in this world because God has a mission in this world.

Carpe Missio!



1 Driscoll, The Radical Reformission, 40.

2 McManus, The Barbarian Way, 2–4.

3 Sanders, Spiritual Leadership, 16.

Monday, January 28, 2008

When Jesus Says "Go!" - Don't Stay!

In reading through Luke 9-10 yesterday morning, I was struck by the times that Jesus says, "Go." I remembered, of course, that Jesus' last instructions before leaving earth included "Go and make disciples of all nations." Those words of Jesus have been repeated often and have motivated countless Christians to engage in the mission of Jesus. Yet, here in Luke, three times Jesus tells followers to "Go."

Jesus tells a man who wanted to follow Him, "Your duty is to go and preach the coming of the kingdom of God" (Lk 9:60). A few verses later, as He sends out His disciples, Jesus tells them, "Go now, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves" (Lk 10:3). Then at the end of the chapter, Jesus tells a religious law expert about showing mercy to your neighbor and instructs, "Go and do the same" (Lk 10:37).

"Go!" is a command to action. You cannot follow Jesus and stay where you are. It's not possible. Going requires movement in the direction you are sent.

But it's so much easier to stay. It's familiar, and often comfortable, to just stay where you are. It's less risky. Less dangerous. Yet, it's our duty to go! Regardless of the cost, we are to go.

Following Jesus requires more than a heart that says, "I will follow you no matter where you go." It requires total abandonment--a commitment to go even if it results in being homeless or being separated from family (Lk 9:57-60). Following wherever Jesus goes is seen in your actions, not your words.

Jesus' call to follow includes going to "preach the coming of the kingdom of God." He sends His followers with the message of the kingdom. To stay (or even "look back") demonstrates you are not fit for the kingdom. Staying is evidence you are not kingdom-focused.

In Luke 10, the Lord sends 70 followers on mission to proclaim the kingdom. He tells them to pray for laborers--and then He immediately sends them as laborers into the harvest. He sends them to every city where He Himself will be going.

Jesus warns them that going would not be easy. They are going as "lambs in the midst of wolves." Yet the imperative is that they must go. It's not an option. There will be some who listen to their message and receive them. There will also be those who reject them--which means they are rejecting Jesus and the One who sent Him.

Yet their responsibility is to go--proclaiming "the kingdom of God has come near to you." They were sent on a mission with a message. Preach the kingdom. Enter homes. Bless. Eat and drink together. Accept hospitality. Bring healing.

Jesus sends them to homes to live with people and bless them and share meals together. Jesus didn't send them out to invite people to a crusade, or conference, or church gathering. He sent them to live missionally--declaring and demonstrating the kingdom. This is incarnational living--even as Jesus Himself lived (Jn 1:14 - "dwelt among us.") Going requires that we engage with those in the culture around us.

If there were only two times that Jesus said "Go!" in Luke 9-10, I think my understanding of going would be most strongly described as Proclaiming in the context of home, food and conversation. However, Jesus tells the story of a Samaritan man who had compassion and demonstrated mercy to a man who was mugged and left to die on the side of the road. After describing what loving your neighbor looks like, Jesus says, "Go and do the same." Go and show mercy.

Just a few pages earlier, Jesus says in Luke 6, "Love your enemies...do good...bless...pray...give to everyone who asks...lend, expecting nothing in return." He then gives a powerful instruction, "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful" (Lk 6:36).

The Father is merciful to me! His mercies are never-ending. They are new every morning.

Jesus says, "Go and do the same." Be merciful. Love your neighbor. This is missional activity. Those who are sent by Jesus can't just declare God's mercy--we must demonstrate God's mercy. We must be compassionate.

I've been one of those Christians who is quick to say, "I don't have the gift of mercy." I confess that I'm not yet a merciful and compassionate person. But that's not an excuse. It's an admission of my failure to really live out the gospel in the culture around me.

When Jesus says "Go" - you can't stay!

When Jesus says "Go"--He sends me on mission with others to "be Jesus" to those around me. Since Jesus is merciful, I can be merciful. Going requires movement in the direction I've been sent. He sends me to love others, to bless others, to show mercy--to visibly demonstrate the gospel. So I can't stay where I am. I have to go--and I will have to learn from Jesus how to become more loving and merciful.

When Jesus says "Go" you can't stay! Oswald Chambers suggest that if you know that He told you to go and you choose to stay, "it simply means that you do not believe that Jesus means what He says."

Go!
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