Sermon: Mission in Christ

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1 Sermon: Mission in Christ 1 Introduction What is our mission as a church? What are we here to do? We re living at a moment in history where lots of people are questioning the place of Christianity in our society. As Michael Jensen put it recently for an article in Eternity magazine, lots of people are suggesting that followers of Jesus are on the wrong side of history. We have dated morals. We have a worldview that seems embarrassing. The church seems to represent a dangerously outmoded vision for human life that would be quaint if it weren t so dangerous. What place do we, as followers of Jesus have in Australia? I started this series 6 weeks ago by asking the question who are you? And I said then that, your faith in Jesus means that are united to him spiritually. His story has become your story. And saw the implications of that didn t we, that you are God s child a dearly loved member of his family, sitting with him. And we saw that you are God s new creation. You are made to demonstrate his brilliance. You re his masterpiece. Like a Stradivarius. Knowing this is powerful it will change your life. But is it just a private thing? Something nice for you? People say that don t they it s nice you have faith Our reading this morning is Jesus famous last words in Matthew; the great commission. And it says that God has a mission. He has a mission for the whole world. And so while you might be God s Stradivarius, you re not his only masterpiece. In fact God is making an entire orchestra. He s bringing every part of his creation into perfect harmony and putting it all under one conductor Jesus. And this morning I want us to consider our place in his mission and how we re to go about achieving it. But it doesn t start with us. God has a people for his mission Having a clear mission statement is very important isn t it. Because your mission statement will determine everything you do. Google s mission statement used to be don t be evil. I note they ve since changed it apparently their fine with evil now. NASA s mission statement is to pioneer the

2 future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research. I d say they ve been pretty good at sticking to that mission wouldn t you? 2 God s mission is to unite all things under Christ (Ephesians 1:10). It s another way of saying what Jesus says. And it s a mission of love. One of my lecturers at Moore College was a Jazz saxophonist. And he used to give this talk where he got a jazz trio to play a standard blues behind him. And he d explain that playing Jazz is all about being in the groove. Being in time, listening to the other players, responding to them. But in the 60s free Jazz came along. Jazz musicians started to want to break all the rules, they decided to play out of time, in different keys to each other, to play their instruments with the wrong technique to deliberately make chaotic sounds and at this point in the talk he d get the band to imitate free jazz which is as bad as it sounds. And he would then snap his fingers, and the band would go back to playing standard blues. And he would say, human beings were made to play in God s groove. And free jazz is sin! And God s mission is to get everyone back in the groove, making music together. Living the way we we re meant to live loving God and loving our neighbours. That s God s mission. And God is working towards this because he created us and he loves us and he wants us to flourish. See, God s mission comes from his identity. God is the good and loving creator. His identity, his character, who he is drives what he does and why he does it. But as David said last week, God doesn t work alone. He works through his creatures. And he s put together a team to accomplish his mission. God has made us for this mission Our first reading from Psalm 8 captures the work that human beings were supposed to do we are a little lower than the angels and we re given dominion over the world to bring about a beautiful order and flourishing of everything God has made. God gave that work to us. But as we see in 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 we are new creations. Something has changed. We ve been given a new identity: we ve now ambassadors. God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of

3 reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ s behalf: Be reconciled to God 3 You and I together the church - are ambassadors created for God s mission of reconciliation of bringing into harmony under Jesus. What does an ambassador do? An ambassador represents the leader to a foreign nation. The US ambassador in Canberra speaks on behalf of Donald Trump. Joe Hockey in Washington speaks on behalf of our government. An ambassador represents and acts in the interests of their leader. When the ambassador does something, it s as if the leader themselves were doing it. And So when Jesus says in Matthew 28 :18-20 He has all authority, and he s sent us out to make disciples of all nations. We re to baptize them and teach them everything he taught us. And he ll be with us to the end of the age. Until the mission is done. We as a church are an embassy in a foreign land. Sometimes it really feels like that. We re the embassy of the Kingdom of God in the Commonwealth of Australia. You and I are citizens of God s kingdom before we are citizens of Australia. And you and I are ambassadors of Christ. We speak and act with his authority. It s what we re here for. No matter what is happening around us, no matter what the world says about the place of Jesus followers. God is clear we are his agents of blessing. But how do we do the mission? God has a strategy for his mission: love The 19 th century explorers Burk and Wills had a mission. They were supposed to go from Melbourne to the gulf of Carpentaria and back. And they were looking for good pastureland in the interior of Australia. They also wanted to be the first to get from coast to coast. But they were woefully unclear about what was most important. And it set them up for failure. They set out from Melbourne carrying a huge formal oak dining suite. Because that s what you need in the central deserts of Australia isn t it. It took them a month just to get to the NSW border. It was a farce. And the confusion about what they were supposed to be doing and what they needed to achieve success ended up costing them their lives.

4 4 God s strategy for his mission is pretty simple. It s love. Infectious love. Attractive love. Contagious love. Because love is what won us over to Christ isn t it. At the end of the day, that s why we re here. It s the essential thing God s love demonstrated in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Because There are plenty of better social clubs. There are other charities that we could join. There s better music on in the city. No we are here as God s people, because God s love broke our hearts. God s love has transformed us and continues to transform us. Look at what Peter says that God has done in 1 Peter 2:9-10 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. God s love is why we re here. And God says to us, his ambassadors, go and do what I do. Go and love. Go and love your neighbour. Look at what Peter says in the next verses Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. Is that not our situation? Christians are being accused of being on the wrong side of history. But God s mission strategy is to win people over with love. Verse 12. Our mission strategy isn t about programmes or techniques. God just says go and be passionate and enthusiastic because passion and enthusiasm and love are infectious. My friend Sam is one of the most passionate people I know. He does nothing by halves e.g. he loves carbonated water so much that he invested in a high volume commercial CO 2 storage container because he realised it was more economical than buying soda stream canisters. And he worked out the maximum volume he could get without risking suffocating his entire family in case it leaked. And the thing is, it sounds over the top but you start talking to him and he s just so

5 5 enthusiastic that you find yourself thinking yeah I should do this. He s also really into cigars he s got this humidity controlled storage case for cigars and he worked out that smoking one per week was a relatively low cancer risk - Like I said, nothing by halves! He almost convinced me about the cigar cancer thing. But the thing about Sam is, he s also Christian and a pastor. And his passion and enthusiasm and love for Jesus are infectious. And really that s the first non-negotiable in God s mission. It starts with our love for Jesus. As John says, we love because he first loved us. We ve experienced the love Jesus has for us, and we love in response. And when we fill up on loving Jesus, it will flow naturally into talking about him. Because speaking of Jesus isn t supposed to be a technique. Speaking about Jesus isn t supposed to be something you have to do, like brushing your teeth or putting out the rubbish. When you love Jesus it becomes the most natural thing in the world to talk about him. So don t even think about how you can communicate your passion for Jesus to others. Just be passionate about him. Meditate on him until he captures your heart afresh. If Jesus is my delight. If Jesus is my passion and my rock and the centre of my life, that ll come out. We ve got to love Jesus if we re going to do this mission. Secondly, we ve got to love people. God s mission for us is to bring everyone under Christ by love. And if we don t really love people, if we just see them as projects for our evangelism, or if we like the idea of mission but not the real people we encounter on mission, we re not going to succeed because we re not doing God s work. Because again, it s God s mission and God is love. And if you don t feel a love for people, for our people, for the people of the Forrest, start praying that God would melt your heart. Start praying that God would give you his heart. We ve gotta love people. Finally, we ve got to love life! We believe that the whole world is full of God s glory right? It s the first verse in our reading from Psalm 8 how majestic is your name in all the earth?. Psalm 57 says Be exalted O God above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth. We believe that everything in creation is permeated by God s glory. Sure, sin has distorted things. But we can see his goodness. And 1 Timothy 4:4 says, that everything God created is good and shouldn t be rejected if we receive it with thanksgiving.

6 6 What are you passionate about? Are you into fishing? Rugby? Cooking? Knitting? DIY? Movies? Books? Art? Crochet? Music? Gardening? Cars? It s all good because it s all a gift from God to be received with thanksgiving! And, as Tim Chester and Steve Timmis put it our job is to have fun to the glory of God! How good is that?! We get demonstrate our gratitude to him by enjoying his good gifts! When we re passionate and enthusiastic about God, and showing our gratitude to him, its infectious. And we know that he ll use us to accomplish his mission. All we have to do is be open, and willing and prayerful. Application Now I want to spend the last couple of minutes getting really practical. Let s talk tactics. Because there s a risk that this mission God has put us together for just becomes another thing on our to-do list, rather than our guiding principle as his people. So here s just a few ideas that I ve found helpful and I like them because they re mostly about building mission into what we already do. 1. Eat with non-christians. a. We had Laura s mother s group and their partners over for a BBQ the other day because I realised, I don t really know any non-christians in the area. It was really easy and one of the other couples has already offered to host the next one. b. If you normally read a Christian book during your lunch break, put it down and go and eat with your colleagues and get to know them. 2. Walk, don t drive. a. When you walk, there s a chance for human interaction. If you walk your dog, consider inviting someone to walk with you as a way to get to know them better. You can t randomly meet people in the car. I love the way Jonathon Dodson puts it save some gas, the planet, and some people. 3. Watch more TV watch TV with more people a. If you usually watch a particular TV programme like the footy, or the bachelor hey no judgement here invite some people over to watch it with you. It s more fun that way anyway. 4. Be a regular a. Instead of driving all over the city for different things, go to the same places at the same times and get to know the staff and other regulars. Michael s done a great job with this down at Imbue Café he s got such a good relationship with them that they offered to host our Alpha course. 5. Volunteer with non-profits and local organisations

7 a. There s lots of good organisations out there pick one and get involved once a month. Maybe bring your connect group or just a friend. b. Join the P&C at schools. 6. Serve your neighbours a. If you regularly shop on a Saturday, consider driving an older person to the shops with you so they can do their shopping too. Doesn t add much time and it is a really practical way to love someone. b. Offer to help the neighbours with their gardening. Ask the council about the needs in the area. 7 That s a few ideas. We can be creative with this. Whatever you re passionate about. Whatever allows us to love our neighbours. Whatever serves God s mission.

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