a different mission

planet-erde

“So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”” Acts 1:6-8 ESV

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I would not blame anyone for being a little distracted right now. There is a great deal going on globally, and things here in the United States seem a bit shaky. I would not be surprised if the history books list this as a crucial time, a time when major decisions were made with lasting effects.

I am going to ask you to go back with me in time to the first century AD, the time when the words of this text were first spoken. They were given in a time like this. They were spoken when powerful men made decisions that plunged the world into war, decisions that cost millions of lives, and brought pain and ruin to the lives of millions of others.

All of these words were spoken in Jerusalem, a city whose inhabitants were convinced that they would someday rule the world. The believers in Jesus got together and were sure that now was the time for them to take over. Jesus had demonstrated his power over everything. Even death could not stop him. Logic dictated that the believers form armies and overcome their oppressors. Jesus said no.

Jesus did not object to the theology behind his disciples’ question. He implied that some day his people would join him in a reign over all the earth. Jesus objected to the mission implied by their question. He commanded that they gear themselves up for a different mission.

That mission is still ours today. In fact, it is the only mission we have. Jesus’ great commission was essentially the same. We were commanded to make disciples of all nations, and this was to begin in Jerusalem. It was a mission that would be ours until the end of the age,[1] and we are not to stop until we have reached the last unreached place on earth.

A HOLY MISSION

The power behind our mission is the Holy Spirit himself. The believers at Pentecost were empowered by the Holy Spirit to reach Jerusalem for Christ. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and began telling the mighty works of God in different languages. Those who heard their words responded to the gospel as preached by Peter, and came to Christ themselves. Soon, the whole region was filled with the message. Then the Holy Spirit moves Philip to preach in Samaria, and Peter and John get in on the action, “preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.”[2] Then The Holy Spirit sends Peter to Joppa, and sets aside Paul & Barnabas to preach the same message to other gentiles. So, the book of Acts records how the Holy Spirit began accomplishing the mission.

Wherever the Holy Spirit goes, holiness happens. He takes our ordinary lives and reboots them, restoring them to their originally intended function. Wherever the gospel goes, people are confronted with their own sinfulness, because they meet Christ. He does not demand that we change, he offers grace. But his grace changes us.

A JESUS MISSION

From that point on, life ceases to be about us, and what we are about. Life becomes about letting the world know that Jesus lives, who he is, and what he has done. That is what it means to be a his witness. A witness is someone who testifies of something that he has seen and experienced.

You cannot be Jesus’ witness until you actually experience him. Once you experience him, you cannot help being his witness. You may not do it well, but you already are his witness.

A WORLD MISSION

The scope of our mission is always global. No matter who you are, no matter what your gifts, no matter what your background, Jesus challenges you to have an impact on every nation on the planet.

We are living in a time when that is more possible than it ever has been. Although we travel every year, there is no way for Penny and I to visit even the seven Asia –Pacific countries whose ministries we oversee for the denomination. But we can still be regularly involved in the ministries of those countries because of this remarkable time we are living in. We keep in regular contact with church and mission leaders in 20 countries, as part of the Global Training Initiative. I write and post articles and devotions on the internet that are being read by people in over 90 countries.

You and your church are making a global impact when you pray for missionaries and national leaders. You are making a global impact when you give to missions. I applaud you for doing that. But I want to challenge you to go beyond that. There is no telling what you and your church could do if you caught on to what it means to be a world Christian today.


[1] Matthew 28:16.

[2] Acts 8:25.

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