Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Why Mission and therefore Church Planting matters Part 3

The final part of three on why mission and therefore church planting matters from Acts 1.

So the mission of God to glorify himself by bringing people to know and enjoy him as they were made to do has not changed.  And the need of men and women to know God through Jesus and be saved from a lost eternity has not changed either.  I wonder how that makes you feel?  

It's both thrilling and terrifying? But ‘I can’t do it’ we think, ‘it’s too big’, ‘where do we start’, ‘how do I choose who I share this good news with’ ‘where would we as a church seek to reach and how’? ‘I’m not an extrovert or a public speaker...’ Jesus anticipates and demolishes every potential excuse the Apostles and we might make in(v8) of Acts 1.

Jesus says two things to them regarding timing of this massive mission: Wait and Go.  

The disciples aren’t sent out straight away, they’re commanded to wait(4). They’re to be Jesus witnesses but they can’t do it themselves, and Jesus doesn’t send them alone. What are they waiting for? (5)“you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.” (8)“you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses...”

Often we think wrongly about the Apostles and the early church. We read the stories and assume they were rocket fuelled extrovert types, naturally charismatic powerful speakers, who were brave and fearless and loved living life on the edge. You know the sort; adrenaline junkies who in their spare time relax by base jumping, free climbing or snowboarding. By thinking of them like that we excuse ourselves from witnessing because that’s not me, so we limit witnessing to Jesus as just for the extrovert or the adrenaline junkie.

But Luke in his gospel has shown us they aren’t like that. They‘re just like us; prone to avoiding confrontation as they slip away from the mob in the garden, prone to worry and anxiety in the face of a storm, prone to want their comfort as they try to send the 5,000 away rather than feed them, prone to saving their skin rather than standing up for Jesus round the fire in the courtyard.

So what changes? How come these men and women turn the world upside? God doesn’t change their personality type, if you’ve been praying for that you’ve been praying for the wrong thing. These men turn the world upside down because Jesus keeps his promise and he sends them the Holy Spirit. They aren’t alone as they go to witness to Jesus, God the Holy Spirit fills them enabling them, and us, to know God and enjoy new life in Jesus. He helps us know we are loved and share in the Father, Son and Spirit’s joy and delight in each other. And he causes that love and delight to overflow into our words and actions as we witness to Jesus as our Saviour and Lord.

He says wait for that to happen and then GO.

Do you see the significance of this? This isn’t mission impossible, the message doesn’t self destruct in 10 seconds. The Apostles aren’t sent out alone. Neither are we, but unlike them we don’t need to wait. When we trust in Jesus for forgiveness, when we repent of our sin and ask him to be our Lord he promises and gives us the Holy Spirit. And by that empowering God equips us to be his witnesses; to take on his mission for his creation to delight in and enjoy life lived with Father, Son and Spirit. God doesn’t give us a character transplant to make us extroverts! He calls, equips and empowers us to witness to him as he has made us.  We are to witness to who he is and what he has done for us and in us.

The mission can seem vast, it can seem overwhelming, if we take our eye off who God is and who he has given us.

Only one power exists on this planet, in this town, in this community that can bring lasting change. Only the love of Jesus Christ that conquers sin, wipes out shame, heals wounds, and reconciles enemies can change the world one life at a time. And God has given that message to his church, to us, filled with his Spirit to bring others into his kingdom while we wait for that kingdom to be fully realised.

And notice one last thing. (10-11)The angels come and prod the disciples, don’t stand around waiting staring up into the sky, he’ll come back, yes, but don’t wait for it. Live in the light of it. God’s unchanging mission is for his people to witness to him. To break new ground with the gospel, see the lost saved and churches planted to disciple new believers.

Mission matters and therefore church planting matters as we establish disciples in every city, town village and suburb that are reaching out to others with the gospel.  The church is the visible embodiment of our mission to witness to Jesus.

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