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Seeking to equip people to live as Christian disciples wherever God has placed them.

Wednesday, 5/3/17

Missions Conference

John 4

It is often said that the church’s mission is found in the “Great Commission,” to make disciples of all nations. And indeed that is what Christ tells his disciples when he leaves this earth. But the question becomes what is a disciple? In 2 Corinthians 5:20, Paul reminds us that we are ambassadors for Christ. In doing so we are to become the hands, feet, and face of Christ to everyone we meet. So looking at the mission of God, we need to act as Jesus would and did. The mission of God is found in the Gospels.

When we look at stories of the women at the well or talking with the Pharisees or overturning tables in the temple, we see Jesus acting out God’s mission. For us, trying to carry out God’s mission in the 21st century, these stories offer blueprints for that mission.

A study of the gospels shows that Jesus was sharing his love with people he met. When he meets the women at the well in John 4, he speaks with her of her sin. Jesus already knows what her story is and offers her forgiveness. Though she acknowledges the many husbands and lovers she has had, she never says that this is wrong. She never asks for forgiveness. Jesus knew she was a sinner and extends her love and forgiveness when no one else would. The commission in John gives the ministry of reconciliation and forgiveness to the disciples and therefore the church.

When Jesus talks with the Pharisees, he is often critical of them. We learn in Sunday school that Pharisees are bad guys. But this is not true. The Pharisees are a Jewish sect; the largest of the time. These are the people who should know God’s mission the most, but Jesus calls them out time and time again for not knowing that mission. When they bring Jesus the woman caught in adultery, he doesn’t judge her. Jesus instead judges the Pharisees or at least calls them out for their hypocrisy.

As poor people made their way to the temple, they would be required to give offerings to God. Not being able to bring animals with them on their journey, they would need to buy from local merchants, to do this they would need the local currency. The temple took advantage of this and money changers would set up in the temple and charge exorbitant fees or give terrible exchange rates to these pilgrims. For a poor Jewish farmer, this could be a tremendous hardship. Jesus becomes enraged by this exploitation that is happening in the temple of God. Furious, he drives them out and calls them all sort of names.

So God’s mission as I read the Gospels is one of love and accountability and justice. Jesus exclaims this in the beginning of his ministry. In Luke 4:18, he reads from Isaiah 61 exclaiming that he is here to bring good news to the poor, freedom to the captives, recovery to the blind and to let the oppressed go free. This is God’s mission. As Jesus followers, we should be striving towards those goals.