Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Snippet from Sunday Morning

You see, suffering is part of Jesus’ mission, part of what Jesus came to do. Read Mt 10.24, “Students are not above their teacher, nor servants above their master. It is enough for students to be like their teacher, and servants like their master.” Do we want to be like Jesus? Following Jesus in his mission means doing what he did. And we believe that he came to suffer--that the only way the world could be made right, the only way we could be brought back home to God, was for Jesus to submit to suffering.

Last week I said that Jesus’ mission was to reconcile the broken world to God. God’s way is not to sweep away the pieces of this world shattered by sin and death. God didn’t leave this world behind and create something new. Nor did God force this world back into the mold of what God hoped for. Jesus didn’t ride a horse, wave a sword, and reconquer the world like a holy Caesar founding a Christian Rome. Instead Jesus became vulnerable; he took our sin, sickness, loneliness, and death upon himself. And by doing so, he planted the seed of God’s kingdom in the soil of our broken world. On Easter morning, he brought forth its first fruits.

Jesus calls us to become like our Master-Teacher. Like Paul, we have to take our part of Jesus’ suffering on the cross-shaped way. Like Paul, we have to demonstrate that God’s grace is made whole in our weakness and suffering. We have to accept the scrapes and bruises--even the suffering and death--that come from working with the pieces of the broken world.

April 22 - The Call to Mission

We begin this morning in Matthew’s story about Jesus, in chapter nine at verse thirty-five. We’ll be spending a bit of time the next two weeks here, listening to Jesus and watching as people respond to him. These are words and stories about purpose--our purpose. About why we as a community of believers are here!

So find Matthew 9.35 in a Bible, one you brought with you or one in the chair in front of you. I’d like all of us who can to stand as we listen, just as we've been learning us over the last few weeks. So let’s listen to what Jesus says to us through Matthew 9:35 through 10:8.

Jesus went through all the town and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” Amen?

In three of our four Gospels--in Matthew’s story, in Mark’s story, in Luke’s story--Jesus’ first words to his followers are “Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people.” This is important. When Jesus gathers us to himself and turns us into a fellowship of followers, he gives us a purpose and he gives us a mission.

And it wasn’t just the first handful of followers Jesus gathered along the Galilean lakeshore. Paul talks about his favorite churches in the same way. He praises the young believers at Thessalonica because the Lord’s message rang out from them, so that their faith has become known everywhere. Or hear his words to the Philippian believers: I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel, . . . being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

What I want to say this morning is that unless we are a church going out and living out and shouting out the gospel of God’s kingdom--unless we are a missionary church--we are no church at all. Let me say that again: Unless we each and all take up Jesus’ mission, we are not a church.
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