Summary: When it comes to missions we can sometimes have a misplaced sense of purpose, time, place, person and power.
EXTENDING IN MISSION
One Sunday morning a stranger wandered into a small country church in the middle of the sermon. The man was unkempt and dirty. The usher tried his best to seat him off in a far corner but instead the man walked to the very first pew and sat directly in front of the pastor. Then to the congregation’s horror in the middle of the message the man began to shout, "Amen. That’s right! Preach it brother." The minister frowned at the man, but that didn’t work. The stranger just continued, "Praise Jesus, Hallelujah!" Finally an usher went to the man and whispered in his ear, "Sir, we don’t act like this in church." "But you don’t understand, I’ve just got Jesus," said the stranger. "Yes sir," said the usher, "but you didn’t get him from here."
Today we are finishing our series going back to the basics and asking the question “what is the church”. We have looked at the Great Commandment (loving God and loving others) and the Great Commission (making disciples). Today we are looking at the beginning of this verse:
Mat 28:18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Jesus told us to GO and make disciples OF ALL NATIONS. How do we do that?
John 4:31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, "Rabbi, eat something." 32 But he said to them, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about." 33 Then his disciples said to each other, "Could someone have brought him food?" 34 "My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Do you not say, ’Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying ’One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor." 39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, "He told me everything I ever did."
1. What is God’s Heartbeat - Missions! - Lost sense of Purpose (vs 31-34)
The priorities of the disciples were off because they had lost a sense of their purpose as followers of Christ. They thought that Jesus talking to this woman was a diversion from their true task of getting home from Jerusalem. They thought that this was just a rest break. Jesus reminds them that their true purpose in life, their mission, was to seek and to save the lost.
We are the hands and feet of Jesus. He has given the task of taking the Good News to the church. Jesus said in verse 34 that in talking to the Samaritan woman he was doing the will of His father and finishing the work. Why did Jesus come to the earth? He came for one primary purpose. Yes he came to teach, but that isn’t it. Yes he came to heal that that isn’t it either. Jesus came to DIE. He came to give His life as a sacrifice to bring men and women back into a saving relationship with God the Father. The will of God is that all should be saved.
In university I was fearless in sharing my faith for Christ. A friend and I would stand on bus benches in Toronto witnessing. When I got into seminary my focus changed. I became more informed and more respectable but I lost the passion. I lost sight of this primary purpose.
In the same way the church exists for different reasons. Part of it is worship and teaching and fellowship but the primary purpose of the church is to bring people to Christ. Our purpose is MISSION – extending the kingdom of God. Often evangelism and missions is seen as a good thing but not a priority in the church. However, it must be central to everything we do. Our primary task is to GO! You might ask, how are we to go.
2. When do we go? - Lost sense of Time (vs 35-36)
The disciples had lost their sense of urgency. They did not understand that now was the time to act and not later. The word used for ripe is LEUKOS or ‘white’. When wheat is white it is not just ripe, it is overripe! To let it sit would have meant it would have spoiled.