Summary: Ultimate joy and fulfillment in the Christian life comes from passing the faith on to others. Our text challenges and equips us to do just that.
Jesus’ Mission and Yours
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
Introduction: An old legend speculates about what might have happened when Jesus ascended to heaven after his crucifixion and resurrection. The angel Gabriel approached Him and said, "Master, you must have suffered terribly for humanity down there." "I did," He said. "And," continued Gabriel, "Do they know all about how you loved them and what you did for them?" "Some do. Most don’t, at least not yet," Jesus answered, "Right now only a handful of people know what I did and why."
Gabriel was perplexed. "What have you done to let everyone know about your love for them?” Jesus explained, "I’ve asked my followers to tell others about me. Those who are told will in turn tell others. My story will be spread to one person after another. Ultimately, all of humankind will hear about my life and what I have done."
Gabriel looked skeptical. "Yes," he countered, "but what if Peter and James and John grow weary? What if the people who come after them forget? What if way down through the centuries people just don’t tell others about you? What happens then? Have you made any other plans?" “No,” Jesus answered, "I have no other plans. I’m counting on them."
Jesus’ plan hasn’t changed. He said his mission was “to seek and to save that which was lost.” He said he came to “lay down his life as ransom for men’s sins.” Jesus said he was “the way, the truth, and the life.” He declared in no uncertain terms that he was the only way to heaven. That was his message and his mission.
Jesus said his mission is our mission. “As the father sent me, so send I you,” he told his followers. “Go make disciples of all nations,” were his parting words. The Bible insists that his plan is simple. Faithful people are to teach others about Jesus. These people then teach other faithful people who will in turn tell others. The message spreads one person, one family, one church at a time across the street, across the miles, and across the centuries.
You and I are products of that plan. A godly grandmother, loving Sunday school teachers, faithful preachers and evangelists, all passed their faith to me. Somebody told you about who Jesus was and what he did. It may have been parents, a next door neighbor, maybe even a total stranger. But somebody told you. Every one of us is part of a two thousand year chain reaction. Like generations before us, we receive and we pass it on. That was Jesus’ plan.
Today we consider the final of the five purposes for which we were made. I will say it again—we are using Rick Warren’s terms from his best selling book The Purpose Driven Life, but the Bible is our real source. The Purpose Driven Life is our roadmap; God’s Word is our destination.
Warren explains our God-given purposes like this. 1) We were planned for God’s pleasure. The Bible calls that worship—praising, honoring, and glorifying God with our talk and our walk. 2) We were formed for God’s family. God made us to belong to the fellowship of believers-the church. We need one another to function and grow in faith. 3) We were created for Christ-likeness. That’s what the Bible calls discipleship. A Christian is more than a church member or a religiously inclined person. A Christian is a person who has made the following of Jesus’ teaching and example his life’s goal. 4) We were shaped for God’s service. Life is not about us. It is about loving and serving other people. Finally, 5) we were made for God’s mission. That mission is to continue that chain reaction of faith into the next generation.
Our text outlines how to make that happen. These verses explain four simple steps that every follower of Jesus can take to make his mission our mission in this generation.
Actually, we can’t look at the four steps in our text without first noting a preliminary step that is not stated. Before you can pass faith on to someone else, you have to have it yourself. No one can give away what they don’t possess. If you don’t know who Jesus was, why Jesus died on the cross, and haven’t taken a stand for him, how can you influence someone else to do so?
Billy Graham tells of years ago visiting a city for one of his crusades. He spent one morning writing letters and then went for a walk to find a place to mail them. He had never been to that part of the city before so he didn’t know his way around. He walked around for quite a while looking for a mail box. Finally, he came across a young boy sitting on some steps. He asked the boy if he knew how to get to the post office. The boy gave Billy Graham the directions. Before walking away, Billy said to the boy, “Come on over to the arena tonight and I’ll tell you how to get to heaven.” The boy looked at him and replied, “How can you know how to get to heaven? You don’t even know the way to the post office!”