Summary: How does the Church respond to the problems piling up in our world? Jesus tells us to reach...
Matthew 28:16-21: REACH
There are lots of things going on the world today. The question I have for you this morning is – how is the Church supposed to respond? What are you as a Christian supposed to do? The anniversary of 9/11 is this week, and that anniversary reminds us that our world can be a very scary place to live. There are all kinds of terrorists out there, and as a result, there is a sense of fear and uncertainty. How is the Church supposed to respond? The government responds by tightening security, reorganizing certain agencies. Television networks respond by having 9/11 specials and including news updates about terrorism. Those are all good things. But what is the Church supposed to do? How is the Church supposed to respond?
The economy is struggling right now, for all kinds of reasons. United Airlines is fighting to stay out of bankruptcy. A huge freight company that’s been around for 75 years is very close to laying off 15,000 workers. A drought in the Southeast is destroying farmers and businesses. People are struggling financially – more fear, more uncertainty. Different agencies are responding in different ways. But how about the Church? How is the Church supposed to respond?
This morning, Jesus tells you how to respond, what he wants you as an individual Christian to do, and what he wants you to do as a member of his Church. He tells you what your role is in the world, why you are here, and how you can respond not only to terrorism and recession, but to every problem in this world. You can sum up what Jesus tells you to do with one word, and that one word is “reach.” Jesus wants you and me to reach – to reach out to people that we know, to people that we don’t know, to people who live around us, and to people who live far away. Jesus wants you and me to reach – that’s how we respond.
And as we study the Scriptures this morning, we find out that Jesus wants us to reach out with a specific purpose. He wants us to do more than simply pat people on the back and say, “Everything will be OK.” He wants us to do more than just hug people when they’re down. Jesus wants us to reach out with a specific purpose. This morning, we’re going to see what that specific purpose is. We’re also going to find out that there are certain tools Jesus wants us to use as we reach out. And finally, we’re going to see what our real source of confidence is as we take on this task. Reach – that is our response to the things that are going on in the world, and that is the theme for our sermon this morning.
This is the first of our four-part sermon series entitled, “God’s mission for your life and for your church.” Each of the four sermons has one word for its title. The four titles are: reach, teach, worship, and equip. They sum up our church’s mission statement, which is based on what we have learned from the Bible. This morning, we see that Jesus wants us to reach with a purpose. May God send his Holy Spirit into your hearts as you ponder what his will is for you as an individual Christian, and as a member of his Church.
Jesus spoke these words at the very end of his ministry, after he had died and had risen from the dead. Right before he ascended into heaven, he met with the eleven disciples in Galilee. When they saw him, they worshiped him. But some doubted, we are told. Then Jesus told them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” All authority - in our world, there has never been anyone with that much authority. Even the top man in our country, the president, is limited in his authority. There are checks and balances – laws, congress, other countries, other leaders. And besides that, no saint or angel in heaven is under any earthly authority. Even the President’s authority is limited.
But look at the authority of Jesus Christ. He doesn’t need to get the thumbs up from congress or the voters, because his vote is the only one that counts. He doesn’t need to consult the experts, because he is the top expert on everything. Every saint and angel in heaven listens to him. All authority in heaven and on earth is his. And so this morning, we go to the top authority, Jesus Christ, and we ask him, “What do you want us to do? There is terrorism in the world. There are economic problems. Since 9/11, Islam has become the fastest growing religion in the United States (strange but true). Even though our country claims to be spiritual, it’s drifting farther and farther away from God. We go to the top authority in heaven and earth – Jesus Christ - and we ask him, what do you want us to do?