22 Jan Why We’re Here
As we move into a new year all of us are thinking about what changes we’d like to make in the year ahead. Two of the most common things people want to change about themselves is their physical or financial health. As a result, many resolve themselves to shrink their waistline and grow their net worth. While caring for our bodies and finances in a healthy way is a good and even God honoring goal, there is something that is weightier than our weight and something more valuable than our net worth to give our lives to in 2019. Giving our lives to our waistline and net worth will be of no weight or worth in age to come but giving our lives to the mission of the church will be weighty and worthy for all of eternity.
In 2019 commit yourself to what God has commanded. The Great Commission is our mission. It is why we’re here.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19-20 [ESV]
The commands Jesus gives his disciples following his resurrection and before his ascension is the marching orders for every church in every generation and every geographic location. The mission of the church is the making of disciples.
A disciple is someone who orders their everyday ordinary life around the message and mission of Jesus. Disciples side with Jesus against themselves and serve Jesus instead of themselves. Disciples follow their teacher where he goes and do what he does. Disciples offer their love and loyalty…their allegiance and affection…all they have and all they are to Jesus. This is why we are here. We are in the heart of this rapidly growing community to be faithful to Jesus’ command of making disciples of all sorts of people that God is bringing to our neighborhoods.
At Redeemer we have distilled the great commission into three “S’s”: Sharing, Shaping, and Sending.
The first movement of making disciples in the Great Commission is baptism and baptism is about conversion. We exist to turn the soil, plant seeds, water seeds, and see God bring the harvest of people who would turn from sin, running and ruling their own lives, and turn to Christ as their Savior, God, and King. Then those who come to faith in Jesus are passed through the waters of baptism as an outward visible representation of the inward invisible work of regeneration, repentance, and faith. Conversions come through the sharing of the good news of what God has done to reconcile people to Himself and heal all of creation through His Son. We are here to share this news in two distinct yet connected ways.
- We are here to share the gospel through verbal declaration. We preach Christ as our crucified, risen, reigning, and returning Savior. We sing of the love, grace, and kindness of God that leads us to repentance. We speak of Jesus personally by telling the story of how God saved and is working in us. We want the name of Jesus to be on our lips both in our public services and in our private lives.
- Second, we are here to share the gospel through visual demonstration. In the same way that God, full of love and compassion, moved toward us in the sending of His Son to meet us in our need, we want to move toward others in our city to graciously serve them and meet their needs. We also want to see a church formed where we demonstrate the reconciling and healing power of the truth we are declaring. We want to see racial reconciliation in a multi ethnic and economically diverse church.
The second movement of making disciples in the Great Commission is teaching. Notice that the aim of the teaching is not to fill heads with information but to see life transformation as converts are taught to obey everything that has been commanded. If baptism has to do with conversion, then teaching has to do with instilling convictions, sharpening competencies, and forming character.
- There are certain Theological Convictions that must be present in the life of a disciple. Theological convictions function similar to the foundation of a house that supports all the framework and finishes. Without a solid foundation of theological convictions a disciple is tossed back and forth by every wind and wave of doctrine. In the life of every person who is ordering their life around the message and mission of Jesus there needs to be foundational truths laid regarding the nature of God, the nature of man, the nature of the Bible, the person and work of Christ, the person and work of the Holy Spirit, the nature of the church, and
- In addition there are specific Practical Ministry Competencies that must be sharpened in the life of a disciple. Practical Ministry Competencies function similar to the sharpened edge of a knife that is able to work effectively and fulfill its purpose. These practical ministry competencies are most often expressions of people spiritual gifts. While spiritual gifts are bestowed by the Holy Spirit on every disciple they are not given in the same measure and we sharpen them as we are trained in the use and put them into practice. One disciple may have the gift of teaching in a raw state that needs to be refined. Another disciple may have the gift of leadership and they are able to lead large organizations or ministries and others have the gift of leadership tailored to leading smaller organizations or ministries. Still another disciple may have the gift of mercy and can enter into the pain and heartache of others but they may need training to know how to move them forward or when to refer them to a professional counselor.
- Finally, there is a Functional Character that needs to be formed in the life of every disciple. Functional Character is similar to the molds children use to shape modeling clay into replicas of other people or things. Functional Character is formed in the life of a disciple by the Holy Spirit through the avenue of spiritual disciplines and mentoring. As we practice disciplines like Bible reading, prayer, fasting, giving, solitude, and simplicity we are participating in the putting to death of vices and the birthing of virtues. As we seek out others to mentor us in the ordering of our everyday ordinary life around the message and mission of Jesus they become people who help us side with Jesus against ourselves and serve Jesus instead of ourselves as they point out our self-centered ways of ordering our lives.
The third movement of making disciples in the Great Commission is sending. Notice the first word of command to Jesus in verse 19 is “Go…”. That verb is not merely supporting the command to make disciples but is a command in and of itself. What this means is that every decision we make as believers should be made through the lens of disciple making. We should live a “sent” kind of life. We should enter into every venue of vocation, every sphere of influence, every domain of relationship with the expressed intention of making disciples by sharing or shaping.
For some this will mean living with a greater deal of intentionality in their current spheres. Do you live a “sent” kind of life in your neighborhood? Do you live a “sent” kind of life with your kids and in your home? Do you live a “sent” kind of life in your office? Do you live a “sent” kind of life with those you meet through your kid’s activities? Do you live a “sent” kind of life in your personal or corporate prayer life by praying for those who are church-less or Christ-less?
For others this may mean living with greater deal of intentionality in a different sphere. Living a “sent” kind of life might mean breaking out of your normal routine to start and lead a new Life Group in 2019 with the intention of reaching your neighbors. Living a “sent” kind of life might mean moving to a new city to be a part of a new church plant. Living a “sent” kind of life might mean moving overseas to an unreached or under-reached people group.
No matter where you are in this…we all need more “sent-ness” awakened in us in 2019.
Resolved in 2019
If we were to give our lives to this mission of disciple making it would be the cure for our apathy and boredom. The cure for your apathy and boredom is not a new hobby or new toys to pursue your current hobby. The cure for your apathy and boredom is not a larger screen with a new Netflix series. The cure for your apathy and boredom is not the remodeling of another room or home. The cure for your apathy and boredom is to give your live to something bigger and beyond yourself. Set your aspirations higher than weight loss and debt reduction in 2019. Resolve to give your life to making disciples. Receive the training you need to move into your vocational and relational spheres with the intention of sharing the good news of Jesus with your words and your life. Invite someone to mentor you as you seek to cultivate functional character, practical competencies, or theological convictions. If you’ve been a Christian for 15 years and never picked up a book on theology, even a coffee-table cliff-note version, make 2019 the year that you begin to take knowing what you believe and why you believe it seriously. If you’ve never explored how God has gifted you, make 2019 the year you get serious about discovering and developing your spiritual gifts. If there are vices that have held you in their clutches for years, make 2019 the year that you take God’s ordained means of word, prayer, community, fasting, and giving and break free from the hands that hold you.
If you’re going to give your life to something in 2019…give it to this.