17 December 2017

Are you a Goer or a Sender?

The Christian’s part in the global church (Part 2)

raKnowing that I am a valuable part of a huge and growing spiritual family around the globe is the immense privilege of every single Christian. God’s kingdom is not small and is not insignificant. At the end of time, when ‘the books are opened,’ it is the triumphant victory of Jesus Christ that will be celebrated and sung about forever, with worshippers from every tribe and nation. (Revelation 7)

With my great privilege to be a member of Christ’s family, comes great responsibility. We looked at some of those in Part 1. Here I want to ask the question: what should drive and motivate my heart as a member of God’s global church? I want to suggest that the healthiest way to be useful is to take our eyes off ourselves and lift them up to the Lord and His amazing agenda. If we do that, then three things will become the passion of our lives above everything else: bringing glory to Jesus, caring for the people of Jesus, and extending the kingdom of Jesus.

Christ-centred and Bible-saturated people will not be able to separate these 3 passions ever from their lives. They are like a 3-legged stool that will topple over if one leg is missing! We won’t be those who do only 1 or 2 of these, we won’t be able to leave one to someone else – all of our life will be about all of these, all of the time.

1) Bringing glory to Jesus

This is the primary goal of all mission. We don’t serve God because we can serve, or because we must serve, or because people have asked us to serve. Not even because we enjoy serving, even though all those things might be true. We should serve because it glorifies our King and Saviour when we honour Him in the world that He has made.

Have you realised that the honour of King Jesus is a truly global thing, not just local in individual lives? God has chosen to bring glory to Himself in a unique way by focussing His purposes on our planet earth. Way before you and I were on the scene, God the Father said to the Son, “I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.” (Psalm 2:8) Ever since then, He has been working out His plans and purposes to bring glory to Christ through saving people from every nation of the world.

You can trace this right through the Old Testament, from the promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:3, “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Given the enormous purposes of God to bring Him glory in every corner of His world, it’s no surprise that in the Great Commission, Christ sends us out to, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matt 28:19) God made a big world, where over 7 billion people currently live. He has forged BIG purposes for that world, to bring great glory to the name of Jesus here on this planet. Is this what drives you to get involved in the global church? It should be this, not simply the vast human needs, which drives us the most.

2) Caring for the people of Jesus

In part 1 we mentioned praying for those who suffer and giving to those in need. Being a living member of God’s family on earth will mean drawing alongside our fellow brothers and sisters in all of their needs, to care for them for the sake of Christ.

Matt 25 describes how crucial is our love and care for the people of Christ, who now mean so much to us because they are our brothers and sisters. King Jesus tells us in Matt 25:40, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

Why is there so much selfishness in the church? Why are people more concerned for their human family than their spiritual family? Why are we willing to make huge sacrifices for our own children, but not for the blood-bought people of God? It’s because our motivations are often not right in the way we serve our Saviour. If we want to bring glory to Him, we must care for His people, wherever they are. This includes those of far away cultures, who speak a different language, but with whom we will spend eternity in heaven.

3) Extending the kingdom of Jesus

This is the vital 3rd leg of the stool. It’s not something that ‘only those interested in mission’ get involved in. Jesus quite clearly said in John 10:16, “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”

The lack of enthusiasm and zeal that we see in many Christian circles for global mission makes complete sense. It is an entirely appropriate and satisfactory response to the Bible! Or at least it would be, if the Great Commission were not in the Bible! And if God’s purposes were not big. And if his family were not from all the nations! And if God wasn’t calling US to be those who speak His word so that people who are eternally lost could “listen to my voice.” Jesus said, “I MUST bring them also.”

Could it be that we have undervalued something that to God is very precious indeed?

It has been put powerfully like this: to get from Rev 5:9 to Rev 7:9, we must go through Rev 6:9. Check it out. Rev 5:9 mentions the past, “With your blood you PURCHASED men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” Christ paid this price once, two thousand years ago. It is done; He has purchased a great multitude.

Rev 7:9 looks into the future, “I looked and there before me WAS a great multitude that no-one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.” This is the vision of all the saved people of God in history, who have been washed in Christ’s blood and saved just exactly as God desired and planned.

In between, we have Rev 6:9, a reflection on our present age, “The souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained.” These are the martyrs for Christ, who in every century of the church, including the 21st Century, have been willing to give their lives for the proclamation of the gospel, the translation of the Bible, the bringing of the saving truth of Jesus and His love to lost people. Many people are being won for Christ, but did you realise this is at great cost, even today? God may be calling you to this honoured company of martyred saints.

Of course, we are totally unable to save a single soul. Only Jesus can do this, with His eternal, life-giving, resurrection power! But those whose hearts are abandoned to their King, who worship His goodness and lovingly submit to His reign, will want to see this reign spread around the globe, in our day and generation. We will want others to, “taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Psalm 34:8)

In today’s world we don’t always have to go to other countries to take the gospel to those who haven’t yet heard it, as many nationalities have come to the West. Whatever the reasons for their coming, whatever your background or sensitivities, are you seeing the opportunities that God has brought about to reach out to the world on our doorstep? God is working powerfully today, for example, amongst Iranians, yet most of those being saved are outside Iran. Might some be living near you? Could you be a ‘goer’ to them?

I have a concluding question. How can we be passionate about God’s honour, His glory, His church; how can we be truly moved by the serious condition of the lost, without being either senders or goers in the global Great Commission of winning people for Christ? Some are already willing to go, but need hundreds of people to partner with them to send them. You can be a crucial ligament this way. Stand with them, pray for them, commit to support them every single month – this is usually the best way to encourage and release them into mission. What a blessing in the family of God are people who truly are ‘senders’ and ‘supporters.’

Others could go, but currently are not willing. Maybe for a while now that might even be you, and the Lord is challenging you about it. Can I suggest that if the Bible is true, and Jesus is on the throne, and we are truly His global family, then there shouldn’t be a single one of us that isn’t either a goer or a sender.

WORDS Andy Ball

Andy was in UK Pastoral ministry & now serves with his wife Tatyana and 5 year old daughter in ex-Soviet Eastern Europe.