Summary: A second 2006 Post-Resurrection sermon
(1) In the circles that I travel in, especially my ministerial circles, there are several common phrases or words that I have heard a great deal in the past several years. One is (1A) ‘casting a vision.’
We read in the Old Testament, “Without a vision the people parish.” Vision is important. We need to have a clear direction for our church, our lives, and our families.
Another phrase that I have heard a great deal is (1B) ‘purpose.’ Rick Warren has written two best selling books with ‘purpose’ in their title, “The Purpose Driven Church’ and ‘The Purpose Driven Life.’ Both are excellent books.
In another day and age, I think the equivalent phrase was ‘The Lord’s Will.’ ‘It is the Lord’s will that…’ “I believe that the Lord’s will for me is to…” Today we substitute the phrase with the word, ‘purpose.’ ‘God’s purpose for me is…’ ‘I am sensing God’s purpose is beginning to change…’
A third word is one that I like. It is a big one these days, closely aligned with ‘casting a vision.’ It is ‘passion.’ (1C)
I hear the question quite frequently, ‘What is your ministry passion? What are you passionate about for the Lord?’
However, it is also a bit overwhelming because there are days when you feel no passion what so ever. Passion is about strengths, about what you are good at.
There is another word, one that is in my title, closely related to vision and purpose, and even passion. It is the word, (1D) ‘agenda.’
Now agenda can have a negative connotation to it. It implies intent to get your way on something. This is especially true in an election year as we hear more and more from candidates and their political agendas. All of these words imply, however, an effort to achieve a goal much like trying to aim a dart at the bull’s eye.
I have heard these phrases and words said by speakers at pastors’ meetings, in articles about church growth, in e-mail columns that I receive, and some of the magazines that I read about the church and other organizations. The challenge as I see it these days is that words and phrases, like these, get over used and degenerate into fads. This makes it a challenge when it comes to helping people come to faith in Christ. It almost seems like sales pitches these days.
(2)As followers of Jesus Christ, as the Church, (2A) we have an unfinished agenda, (2B) we have a purpose, (2C) we have a passion, (2D) we have a vision before us (2E) but it is not ours it is the Lord’s! (2F)
And it is found in our main texts for this morning. It is found in the Great Commission ‘to go and make disciples’ and in the Pentecost empowerment to be ‘witnesses for Christ.’
In the opening chapter of Acts and verse 3 we read, ‘During the forty days after his crucifixion, he appeared to the apostles from time to time and proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. On these occasions he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.”
I wonder what they specifically talk about. I wonder what Jesus did to prove that He was actually alive. We get some hints from the previous scriptures that we looked at last Sunday. But I also wonder where He was and what He was doing when He wasn’t with the disciples. Why did He only appear ‘from time to time?’ Why didn’t He have constant communication with them as He did before His death and resurrection? Did they have quite a few ‘ah ha!’ experiences as Jesus’ teachings became clearer to them with the resurrection behind them?
What were they hoping for? What questions did they ask Jesus? If you had been one of the disciples, what would you have been thinking and feeling? What would have been one of your wishes?
We have some glimpses into their thoughts and feelings, especially in Acts 1:6 where they repeatedly ask Jesus, “Lord, are you going to free Israel now and restore our kingdom?” Jesus makes clear that all of that is in God’s hands and not to worry about it. (3)Then He goes on to share (3) God’s agenda, an unfolding and unfinished agenda.
This agenda is unfolding because God is still at work in our world today. He is at work in our community in ways large and small. He is at work in our nation, though we are sorely tempted to think that he no longer has any influence. He is at work in the world seeking people to come to Him through His Son Jesus Christ.
This unfolding agenda is revealed in our main texts for a couple of reasons. (4) First, God’s agenda was not about one group of people at a specific place and time. It is about all of humanity throughout history.