Summary: Christians are commanded to open the eyes of the blind, free the captives, proclaim the good news to the poor and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
we continue our discussion of ethos by talking about “mission or missions.” What does it mean to hold mission as a value and why is it sacred to us?
When we talk about mission or missions, we are actually speaking of an over-used word in today’s Christian community: Missional. While our missions program, fueled by our Faith Promise, has been a bright spot over the last 10 years by giving away over 2 million dollars to our long term local and international partners, Faith Promise is but a result of deeper value of living on mission for Christ. Missional is an understanding that we are called to move into the world under the power of the Holy Spirit to serve it as agents for Jesus.
When I think of mission, I think of Jesus standing in his home church (a synagogue really) in Nazareth and delivering a sermon that actually rocks the congregation to its core. Do you remember this? It comes just after Jesus is tempted by the devil in the wilderness for 40 days. He has withstood all the temptation the evil one can muster and the first time he speaks, he stands up and delivers this message by taking scripture from, Isaiah 42 and 61 and says the following in Luke 4:18-21:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
and then after, he points to the facts that God chose to heal two inferior gentiles over and above the chosen Jews because in sharing their transformation, they bless the world and therefore fulfill God’s hope which they understood was just for them. As you can imagine, the congregation was a bit stunned. Jesus proposal forced to face a watershed moment to which they could have responded positively to but no, the scripture says: – Luke 4:28-31.
All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.
These last lines really tell the story of being on mission. People are all for living their lives for Christ until they realize, or they’re convicted, that they haven’t really been participating. Jesus is bringing them face to face with the truth and they are challenged by it. In fact, in some cases, people have been known to be taken to a level of anger, or rage, to the extent they want to kill Jesus.
Now I have made people mad before. I’ve had people get mad because I went long preaching, the songs were too loud or they felt I was too casual about the way I handle the sacraments. However, I have never represented the gospel so poignantly that people have wanted to kill me. Jesus goal in this scripture was to wake the people up from their comfort to challenge their world view. They did get defensive. They aren’t alone. It still happens even today.
When we proclaim the good news of Jesus, His presence in the here and now, the availability of a relationship with him, the release from the bondage of sin, and the promise that one day he will make all things right for those who believe and remind folks that he will return, it still provokes people. It the reason we should expect push back when we try to share or live our faith because it challenges the world we live in. It’s an alternative lifestyle to the one outside our doors. The Christian Ethos calls us to think of ourselves as aliens in this world. We are called to loosen our grip on the things and deepen the relationships of this life as we move towards Him. But this is really hard, isn’t it?
So what should motivate us? If I tell you that God commanded you to do it, would you? The studies say no. In fact, 61% of church attendees admitted to not sharing their faith in the last 6 months.
I have to admit that I can go halfway around the world, go door to door to talk about Jesus in another country where they don’t have the same religious freedom we have but still have trouble going to my neighbor and inviting them to join us. I have often asked myself, why it is so different at home? Is it the environment is so different? On mission, I get up and pray. I read the bible. I ask God to lead me during the day. I do whatever is put before me. If it’s hard, then all the better. I go with the intent to help some people by doing just what Jesus said. If I get a chance to talk with someone, I share my story and try and interest them in God’s. At the end of the day, the team circles up for devotions and we share where God has been at work during the day. The night ends with stories of God and relationships.