Summary: This is part two of my 2014 New Year's Message for Christ Church Billericay. I look at mission and pray and whilst doing say consider the harvest field, hostility, hospitality, healing and heaven's kingdom!
Last week was part one of my New Year’s message and today is part two. Last week I summarised the final words of Jesus to the disciples as this: “Go, make disciples, baptise them; teach them to obey.”
I also quoted David Watson from thirty years ago and related it to our locality like this: “If we are willing to learn the meaning of real discipleship and actually to become disciples, the Church in Billericay would be transformed, and the resultant impact on our town would be staggering.”
In Luke 9:1-10 Jesus sent out his 12 disciples with authority “to preach the Kingdom of God and heal the sick”; and in today’s Bible reading we learn that sometime later he ‘appointed 72 others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go’ (10:1). Jesus was never a one-man band. He appointed and sent out others.
During his 3 year ministry Jesus was preparing others for the task ahead by getting them involved in the task at hand. Why did he send out 72 and why do some translations of the Bible say that he sent out 70, and does it matter? No it doesn’t really matter but in the Hebrew version of the Old Testament there were 70 nations in the known world. In the Greek translation there were 72 nations in the known world so the effect and the symbolism is the same. Jesus was sending them out locally to the towns he was about to visit but a time would come when the mission of Jesus would go to the whole of the known world; to every nation.
The mission of the 72 is important for us because there are timeless principles that apply; but first I’d like us to watch a short video called The Fishing Club (note to the reader, you can find it here: http://youtu.be/_O9B0H1iEXw)
There’s a world of difference between attending a fishing club and being fishing club; like the difference between attending a church and being church.
For us to be church instead of simply attending church we need everyone involved in some way as together we live out the life of Jesus.
As He prepared the 72 to go ahead of him Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (10:2); and where is the harvest field of mission? It is every home, workplace and every heart where someone hasn’t yet experienced the love, message, healing and touch of Jesus. So for each of us there’s a harvest field of mission right where we are. So think for a moment about the 7 houses nearest to your own and be honest. Do you know the names of every person living in the 7 homes nearest you? If you do …great! If you don’t …then join the club! There is a harvest field of mission right where we are, and the same goes for the workplace, the sports club, and even closer to home than that! In our families there is a harvest field of mission.
If you’re wondering what is the vision of Christ Church or the mission of Christ Church it is simple. It is for each one of us to know Jesus better this year than we’ve ever done before, and it is for each one of us to make Jesus better known in the harvest field of mission right where we are. That’s the vision.
Next, Jesus said to his 72 ambassadors, “Go! I am sending you like lambs among wolves” (10:3). In other words you will experience hostility to the mission of Jesus. On a weekly basis I think I experience more apathy and ambivalence than outright hostility; but during my time here I’ve had a few metaphorical flaming arrows fired directly at my heart and mind and well-being. Recently as we prayed before a morning service we believe God gave us a picture of a soldier in a battlefield with explosions going off all around. It was perhaps a reminder of the hostility that will come our way as we live out and proclaim the message of Jesus both in word and in deed.
If you make a conscious decision today to grow as a disciple of Jesus during 2014, to learn what it means to engage with the harvest field of mission right where you are; you need to know there will be hostility to the mission of Jesus; just as there was when he sent out the 72; and just as there was towards Jesus himself. I know it seems crazy to those of us who love Jesus but many people viewed him as a threat or worse and that’s why they plotted to kill him.