Monday, October 10, 2016
Monday Morning Rewind: A Missional Life
That's our mission statement at Covenant Church. But as we move forward together, we need to ask ourselves a serious question: Are we really making disciples, or are we just enabling religious consumers? Sometimes, the two look an awfully lot alike.
I was visiting the church of a close friend a few years back, which at the time had about 3000 in attendance. When I walked into the foyer, I saw stations offering people multiple opportunities to serve--and not just within the church walls, but within their community and around the world. Banners advertised those same opportunities all over the building. Everywhere I looked this place screamed "we are here to build servants to our neighbors and the world!" I happened to be walking with the Communications Director--the guy who was responsible for all that "messaging" and I complimented him highly. "I was in here less than 10 seconds, and I know exactly who you guys are. You have done a fantastic job with the message!" As a new staff member, he was thankful for the compliment, but had also just come from a much larger church led by a "Health, Wealth and Prosperity" Pastor--the kind of church that promised its people everything and demanded nothing--except money of course.
To my compliment, this new staff member replied "Yeah, this message is a lot harder to sell than the message at my last church."
Yesterday, we finished up our series entitled "A Different Kind of Life" with a long, hard look at Hebrews 11 and 12. What we saw there was a phenomenal picture of the saints through the ages who gave everything they had--including sometimes their own lives--for the sake of Jesus. They weren't religious consumers. They were faith-filled disciples who lived on mission 24/7. What we learned from their lives was that to live missionally is to live in faith. So what is a faith-filled life? And how do we live it? Because without it, we can't live the way Jesus wants us to live.
What is a Faith-filled life?
1. Its a life of singular passion. Faith is, to put it simply, living your life as though God can be trusted. Even when I don't possess what has been promised to me, I continue to move forward. And when I live that way, I'm living the life of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Sarah, Moses, Rahab, and thousands of others.
2. It takes the long view. So many of the people we read about in this passage lived their whole lives on a promise they never saw fulfilled. In other words, they weren't living primarily for this life, but for the next one. Jesus said "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Everything we have in this life is temporary. Often we think of tangible possessions, but this is also true of relationships. One day, everything that is precious to me in this life is going to be taken from me. A faith-filled life that lives for eternity takes a view that is much longer then ones' own life.
3. It produces spiritual heroes. 2000 years after this letter is penned, we know the stories of these people, and so many more who came after them. Even beyond the stories we read in Hebrews, we remember a Lutheran pastor named Bonehoeffer who stood up to Hitler at the cost of his life. We remember Martin Luther King standing in the midst of a nation infected with the virus of Jim Crow describing a dream of a better world. And when we think of these people, we think as the author of Hebrews; "The world was not worthy of them." That is spiritual heroism, and living a life filled with faith can bring you to join the list of those who fit that profile!
So how do I live this life?
1. Get rid of what holds you back. The author of Hebrews says "lay aside every weight and sin." What sinful habits are keeping you from greater intimacy with your Creator? What is causing you to live in fear? Throw it off!
2. Never give up. The athletic imagery is inspiring. Like a marathon runner, just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Don't back down. Don't tap out.
3. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Get your focus off of your circumstances, a questionable financial market, a circus-style Presidential election, or anything else that is causing you to lose heart, and focus your attention on Christ--who endured the cross for you.
Imagine an entire generation of Christians right here, right now, of whom it could be said when we are dead and gone, "the world was not worthy of them." Are you living your life in that way? Because that's a life of faith, and its a powerful place from which to serve Jesus to the fullest!
Let's start living it together church!