This weekly topic is an effort to recap the Wednesday night Bible study I teach at Sola5, my youth group. I hope it serves to help us all in contemplating the ceaseless riches of God’s grace as revealed through the Scriptures.
This Saturday, Heather, myself, and six others from Hazelwood will be leaving for Pickering, Ontario to assist our sister church plant, The Sanctuary Pickering, with their summer kids’ sports camp. With missions on our brains, we talked last night about what I hope to be our new focus in the new school year – living missionally in our own lives and community. With a name like Sola5, we’ve put a lot of emphasis on reformation over the past three years, both the importance of the historical reformation and the need for constant personal reformation to bring ourselves more in line with the truth of God’s word. However, in the coming year, our goal at Sola5 is to turn our reformation into reformission – taking what we’ve learned and making an impact on those around us who need the gospel.
As an introduction to that task, we looked at Acts 1:1-11 last night, studying Jesus’ final words and actions before his ascension. As we thought about our task, we thought of our missional mentality like a journey so that we could look at the factors that will get us from where we are to where we want to be as individual. What’s the engine that drives us in our pursuit? It’s the gospel. In verses 1-3, notice how Jesus spends his time with the disciples after his resurrection – demonstrating to them that he is alive by various proofs and speaking to them about the kingdom of God. He’s giving them their message, showing and telling them about what his purpose was in coming into the world. Before they could go and fulfill the task he laid before them, they needed to understand what he had come to do. The same is true for us – before you can make an impact on those around you, you must first understand how the gospel bears on your life. It must become your driving force.
If the gospel is the engine for our reformission journey, the church is the vehicle that it drives. The disciples are still, after all Jesus has done, confused about the kingdom he’s come to build. They ask if its finally time to toss out the Romans, and Jesus brushes their inquiry aside. His kingdom, after all, is not of this world. He has called us out of the world to live as his body, empowered by his spirit – and that’s an identity we keep when we scatter throughout the week as well as when we’re together on Sundays. This brings us to our third factor – how do we communicate the gospel to those around us? Our culture is our avenue, it’s the road we’re traveling down. Jesus told the disciples they would be his witnesses. That word most likely calls to your mind a courtroom scenario. What does a trial witness do? He relates what he knows, what he has seen, heard and experienced, to the others in the court. That is our task as followers of Christ, and we relate to those around us through our shared culture. We’re all aware of our culture. If I were to ask you about your friends’ favorite songs, books, movies, causes, biggest pet peeves, etc., you could likely rattle off an extensive list. But when was the last time you thought about why your friends love or hate the things they do. What is it about reading Twilight or watching Lost or listening to Coldplay that triggers something inside them. What is it saying? What deep-seated emotions and beliefs to these things stir? If we can answer those questions, then we’ll begin to see crystal-clear ways to inject Christ into people’s lives. Get to know those around you, and you’ll have deeper opportunities for ministry into their lives.
In conclusion, though, where is this all going? What’s our destination? In verses 9-11, we see that it is eternal life with Christ. The last word that the disciples hear from the angels is that Jesus is returning just as he left. Their expectation and hope in Christ’s return is what drove them into the future. Can we say the same thing? I know that in my life, all too often I can’t. I become so weighed down with this world that I lose sight of my ultimate goal and destiny – to be with Christ. People around us need to see the reflection of our destination gleaming in our eyes if they’re going to have any desire to go with us. We need to grasp with more depth and vitality the glory of Christ and the amazing promise that we will one day stand in his presence and experience the purpose for which we were made by basking in that glory for all eternity. When we do, we’ll find that we’ll have an unshakable desire to live as reformissionaries in a lost and dying world.
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