Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Two by Two - Mission Shaped Spirituality

Evangelism is scary – I think as we look further into it the scarier it looks – last week Derek talked about traveling light
– leaving some of our baggage behind
I don’t know about you but I am pretty attached to my stuff I am pretty attached to me – and dare I say I am pretty attached to my baggage
If you aren’t’ scared then you should be…
Because not only are we not to take anything
but we are being sent like lambs among wolves
And if you read on through these accounts of Jesus sending people out – you will probably have noticed that in Chapter 22 – you are going to need to take a sword
You couple that with the divide that exist between the world of the Church and the world of those who do not attend and I think we all realize there is a huge gulf
Mission is scary

We have got to ask then – is there any Good News
Does it get any easier?
Well we go into the world to do a task – tell people about God’s Kingdom
in doing that we need to realize that we got to people who are like us
Flesh and Blood people who laugh cry, eat, sleep sweat when it get s too hot – freeze when it gets too cold,
People who like us are equally worried about the current financial situation people who are as glad as we are when Friday comes.
There marriages fail at the same rate as marriages in the church.
They have teen pregnancy rates very similar to the rates of teens in the church
And believe it or not the rates of STD’s are statistically higher for Church kids than they are for those in the world

We share a fallen world - We share a fallen nature
The Christian hope and belief is that we ARE being redeemed – we are not there yet

We have been sucked into this FALSE idea that the world in here is great and the world out there is icky…

Well I have some Good news the people we are called to reach are like us

And because they are like us we have a bridge – though there is a divide between the Church and the world we are people with a foot in both camps
We belong here but we belong equally in our work places, among our families that don’t believe, in our neighbourhoods.
Yes there is a divide but the good news is that Jesus can use us as bridges
– To bring the gospel into all the world. We just need to build the bridges in places of connection.
Sandy beeches prone to erosion don’t make good place to build bridges.
Unless you are confident of the place you stand on you can forget about building a foundation for a bridge.
Building between low ground and high ground doesn’t make for good building practice either.
Unless you can meet someone on a level footing bridge building is difficult it requires humility from us
– It may require us to hold our values in check.
I think it’s important to realize most of all that there are some communities that some of us will never be able to build bridges into
– For me the vineyard owner association is probably not a good place to build a bridge
_ I would probably struggle to build a bridge into the rotary club
– The distance to cover may make the span of the bridge impossible to maintain – for me I may not find a person of peace there.
- But the local football club – I think I can do that.

Maybe many of us should not ever think about building a bridge into the skate board culture, but some of us that may be an easy step to make.

In the gospel reading the 72 were told to go and seek out a person of peace
That is a person in which we can find a connection
– not someone who is going to be against us but someone who is like us
– Someone who we understand – someone who understand us
– Someone who speaks the same language
– It could age and stage, it could be social grouping, could be common interest.
I think what you will find when we seek out these people the message will be seen as good news because it is lived out in us.
It will connect, it will offer something, it may even be what they want to hear and receive.

I want to warn you that that in the face of this type of evangelism the enemy has a plan to undermine it - Yes we do have an enemy
A major way is in the use of propaganda
– the way that he puts doubts in our minds about the world
– the way he demonizes everything.
The Nazi’s used this effectively during ww2 it’s easy to exterminate 6,000,000 Jews when they are faceless animals with a number
– But give them a name, a story, dignity and you have a different situation

Propaganda, hearsay, prejudice and assumptions about others are massive tools in the devils arsenal.
He know if he can confuse the lines of communication that we will fail in our mission

Finding a person with which you share Common Ground is finding the Person of Peace
-Finding a person of peace is the first step to bringing the gospel
-Building a bridge on common ground is the second step

I think at the end of the day this is something we are all capable of doing

The second piece of Good News is that we don’t go alone…
Jesus sent out the 72 in pairs – in teams, in missionary units
We don’t go alone –
On a practical level given the amount of danger it sounds like we are going to face this could be about protection. Maybe Jesus send us in base units of community because we are going like Lambs before wolves – if we are in pairs we can watch each others backs…
While this may be helpful it’s not about watching each others back in a hostile world though I am sure that is a bonus it’s about modeling community.

In mathematics 1 plus 1 always equals 2,
Jesus breaks the rules of Math’s – he promises us that when two or more are gathered in his name then he is there also
Going into mission two by two means we are offering something bigger than the sum of two parts.
Jesus goes with us…
And if Jesus goes with us then God is present in what we are doing
And if God is present I think he will bless it

In Jesus math’s one plus one does not equal 2 people quaking in fear…
It equals infinite possibilities,
The fullness of God with us….

But there’s more….
Not only does one plus one equal God with us, it also demonstrates the message we are called to bring.

It models the Good News
When we are a one plus one and two by two mission community we are in the flesh presenting the Gospel to a the world around us

Far too often we have understood the gospel as encouraging people to subscribe to a certain set of doctrines.
We get them to walk the Roman Road – maybe some of us are familiar with it:
1. Acknowledge God as the Creator of everything - Romans 1:20-21:
2. Realize we are sinners and that we need forgiveness. None of us live up to God’s standards. Romans 3:23:
3. God gave us the way to be forgiven of our sins. Romans 5:8:
4. If we remain sinners, we will die but if we repent of our sins, and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we will have eternal life. Romans 6:23:
5. Confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead and you are saved. Romans 10:9-10:
6. Determine in your heart to make Jesus Christ the Lord of your life today. Romans 11:36:
But while this approach is useful it’s only part of the story – it’s only part of the message
What Jesus calls us to do is invite people to share in the life of the Kingdom –
To participate and become part of this community that lives its life under a God who is Trinity
Doctrine and belief is part of it, but it’s also about a way of living, how we treat one another.
If you were to go to an overseas culture it would probably take about 5 minutes to realize that they have their own unique culture – their own unique way of doing things
The Kingdom of God is no different – it’s culture is based on sharing, mutual support, love, forgiveness, giving people second and third chances,
it’s a culture that says Children are as important as the elders and that leadership is primarily demonstrated in service
– It’s about a different way of living not just in the Church but in the world too.

It’s being salt and light
Salt being an antiseptic, a preservative, adding flavor
Light being about lighting up the dark places.

It’s about offering our lives as living sacrifices to God

Yes we are called to subscribe to a set of doctrines but we are also called to nail our colours to the flag of God’s Kingdom,
to take up a new citizenship.

Evangelism is about inviting people into this network of relationships.

We go two by two because in doing that we model something far greater than a guy standing on the street corner preaching to the lamppost about the Roman road.
Again though Satan has a plan
He realizes the power of two people going in the name of Jesus – so he undermines it–
– He tells us forget them we can go this alone
– He says don’t forgive them because they are no good so and so
– He tells us that following Jesus is all about me
– His master plan is about division
But we don’t need to fear
Because we are not in this alone God is with us.
It’s his mission

The God whose mission this is send us we may not have a bag to carry,
We may be going like lambs among the wolves –
We may even be sent out and told to take a sword
But he goes with us
We go in the name of the Father,
Through the life and witness of the Son – just as the word that became flesh and moved into the neighbourhood and calls us to do the same – to make his word flesh in our communities.
To top it all of we go empowered by the Holy Spirit.

What is there to fear?
Well why he may attack and undermine we need to realize that when we go in Jesus name – Satan’s plans will fail
A little further on in Luke Gospel from verse 17 we read
The seventy-two returned with joy and said, "Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name." He replied, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.”

No comments: