Summary: We are sent out to live the life of faith. Through caring conversations, devotions, service and rituals/traditions we remember our baptism in the home, congregation and larger world.
Our thoughts today center on the last verses in the gospel of Matthew, which are called, “The Great Commission.” These verses remind us that like our time, talents and treasures, the gift of the gospel—our new life in Christ is meant to be shared. As we enter the Advent season, these verses remind us that sharing our faith is part of our preparing the world for the coming of Jesus Christ.
Our challenge today is to determine what it looks like to live in the spirit of these verses in today’s society. It is also important for us to discover how we are enabled to achieve these goals.
A HISTORY LESSON
History teaches us many ways that we shouldn’t use to prepare the world for the coming of King Jesus.
In the past, Christians have used force to bring people into the church. Conversions were made at the point of the sword. Forcing people does not appear to be something that God would want his people to do. God doesn’t force us into a relationship—neither should we.
Christians had judged and condemned—we have mimicked the way of the Old Testament prophets rather than the path of Jesus. Guilt and shame are not effective motivators to live in a relationship with God. Yet, these are words that people outside the faith use to describe the Church and reasons they cite that push them away from lives of faith.
Some Christians have turned to the gospel of success and prosperity. They tell people to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior and they will become successful, prosperous, happy, and abundantly blessed. Such a false gospel does not make people disciples of Jesus, but rather users of religion for their own greed.
BEGINS WITH GOD
Our life with Christ and our call to be evangelists begins with our baptism. It is at our baptism that we are forgiven, brought forth to a new life, made children of God, filled with the Holy Spirit, and become lights of the world.
Sharing the new life in Christ with those around us calls us to walk in our baptism. We walk wet. In the Small Catechism, Martin Luther writes that the old us dies daily through confession and repentance. From the waters of baptism a new person rises to live with God in a relationship of righteousness and purity. In the Large Catechism, Martin Luther writes that we should study and practice our baptism.
Our new life in Christ begins with God’s love and grace. New life in Christ is shared lovingly and gracefully.
The Holy Spirit moves in our lives in order to mold us into God’s image, and empower us for mission and ministry.
The Holy Spirit uses a set of keys that have been around for centuries—caring conversations, devotions, service, and rituals and traditions. These are timeless, because they are as effective today as they were in the lives of the early Christians.
These keys not only deepen our faith walk, the open us up to the abundant life and to be witnesses to the good news of God’s grace and love in Jesus Christ.
As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are called to prepare the world for the coming of the King. We can only do this, though, as we ourselves are changed.