God is Missional
Today for Festival Church, it is Mission Sunday and we’re really excited about how God uses us to reach out to others. We are in the middle of a theme called God Is…? We’re asking questions about what God is like because we think it is really important, not just to know God, but how knowing Him affects every aspect of our lives. Depending on how you fill in the gap here, that’s going to determine the way in which you live. It is the same for all of us, however I’m defining God, however I’m understanding Him, that’s going to affect everything I do. And here today on Mission Sunday we’re going to look at what it means that God is Missional.
I’m not sure if that is a term that you’re familiar with. It basically means that God is on mission. He’s doing something, He’s redeeming people back to himself, He is at work in the world today drawing people to Himself. God is Missional. You might have heard this word used before to describe Churches, a missional church. A missional church would describe themselves as a Church that is on mission. Doing exactly what God has called us to do, to preach the gospel in all the world around us. In fact God isn’t missional on his own. God always uses people to fulfil his purposes. So actually, we are missional if we are connected with what God is wanting to do with us and through us.
I’ve got this little picture to help us understand this a little bit. It’s quite a basic picture, I haven’t won any awards for photographic design. I have a picture of 6 houses, one with a light on. Pretend this is your street, your town or city. And to be missional means that we get involved with the community around us. We know when we’re doing well when all the lights start coming on in all of the houses. Jesus embodies the mission of God. There’s a really famous verse in John chapter 1:
The Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us John 1:14 NIV
The message translation it’s one of its most iconic verses, it says
The word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhoodJohn 1:14 MSG
You can see that in this picture. God says He so loved the world that He sent His one and only son. God looked down and thought “what needs to happen to bring people back to me, I know, I’ll send Jesus”. And Jesus came and lived and dwelt in the community in order to bring about change. In the here and now the Church is like this house with the lights on, we’re here to help other people find out about God. And whether that’s people we know on our doorstep, further down the road or perhaps even further afield, in different countries perhaps. We are called to join with God in His mission to bring people back to Him.
In the New Testament one of the people who took this upon himself as their mission too, was the apostle Paul. I love what he says about getting to know this missional God. There’s three verses that I would love to share with you. The first one about Paul knowing is in Philippians chapter 3 verse 10 and it’s like this outlines or summarises how Paul felt about Jesus. It says:
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the deadPhilippians 3:10 NIV
Paul is really explicit, I want to know Christ, and I hope that is your prayer today. In terms of joining in with God’s purposes in the world today, do you want to know him with everything that you’ve got, with your whole being. I sense these words resounding through the ages – “I want to know Christ”. So not only did Paul want to know the One who turns the lights on, he wanted to make sure the whole community also knew about Jesus.
In this next verse, Romans 15:20, Paul summarises his mission. And says:
It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not knownRomans 15:20 NIV
So he wants to know Christ and he wants to make sure he shares the message about Christ in places where Christ is not known. With people who don’t know Christ. I think that should be part of our mission too. Are we presenting the gospel? Are we speaking about the kingdom of God? Are we drawing people to Father God? In places where he is not currently known? That should surely be our mission. I’m really intrigued actually, I’m doing a fair bit of study at the moment in terms of the things that Paul encourages us to know about. He often talks about the things that he knows about and what he wants to know about more. I’m really intrigued that he wants to know Christ, he wants to preach the gospel where Christ is not known. You can see him really linking in with God’s mission, with missional God.
I love these verses in Ephesians 1 17 and 18. I keep reading these out in what seems like every team meeting, every church service. They have become a real heart cry inside of me, what Paul is praying, I’m praying it for myself and I’m praying it for you too.
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people Ephesians 1:17-18 NIV
The new living translation in verse 17 says that he’s praying that God would give us spiritual wisdom and insight so that we might grow in our knowledge of God. In this season of our theme of getting to know God better I hope you catch a new and fresh glimpse of missional God, God on mission, working in the world today but actually inviting us to join Him, to walk alongside Him, together with God, making a difference in the world. And to know this, to get to grips with this, Paul prays that we be granted the spirit of wisdom and revelation, wisdom and understanding about God and His ways. There was one thing that struck me about wisdom and revelation, or wisdom and understanding, is those two things are really important in terms of equipping us and instructing us so they strengthen us, they give us the tools we need but also within wisdom and revelation we find the instructions, how to do stuff. And in fact when we consider joining God on mission, wisdom and understanding are really important in terms of those two principles equipping and instructing. One of the wisest men who ever lived, King Solomon, he wrote about the importance of wisdom and revelation.
I want to read to you what he said about these things.
21 My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,
preserve sound judgment and discretion;
22 they will be life for you,
an ornament to grace your neck.
23 Then you will go on your way in safety,
and your foot will not stumble.
24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25 Have no fear of sudden disaster
or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked,
26 for the Lordwill be at your side
and will keep your foot from being snared.
27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
when it is in your power to act.
28 Do not say to your neighbor,
“Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—
when you already have it with you.
29 Do not plot harm against your neighbor,
who lives trustfully near you.
30 Do not accuse anyone for no reason—
when they have done you no harm.
31 Do not envy the violent
or choose any of their ways.
There we are, right at the start here, those two things that Paul is praying for us that we might have that we might know Him better, we might seek his purposes and seek his will in our world. All those centuries earlier, King Solomon is highlighting their importance.
You might have noticed there’s a slight change of tone: up to verse 26, the first 5 verses and the verses afterwards. Solomon starts off with Listen everyone, don’t lose sight of wisdom and understanding and then proceeds to show us how wisdom and understanding will equip us. But then also from verse 27, pulls out some instructions, equipping and instructing. Things that we need to reach out to our world. Here are three things that I noticed that wisdom and understanding will equip us with.
The first one I’ve called Spiritual Foresight. Solomon says do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight the apostle Paul is praying that we would have a spirit of wisdom and revelation, it’s a spiritual thing that needs to be kept in focus. Wisdom and understanding can help you see ahead really well. They can help you discern who to speak to, they can help you discern what God would have you do in this next season, they can help you discern how reaching out to others looks in the world in which you live.
The second thing that wisdom and understanding equip us with, it equips us to be able to take really good footsteps. Verse 23 says Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble. Wisdom and understanding gives us a firm footpath for our feet. I’ve gone with Firm Feet. Wisdom and understanding will help you take good steps in this time of uncertainty, the time we are living in now you can have firm feet with wisdom and understanding.
The third thing that wisdom and understanding can give us is Fearless Hearts. I love how it says in verse 25 Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked. This season that we are in, this pandemic season, requires people like you and me, people like us to have fearless hearts, to step into the fray, to step into the darkness and say “do you know what? We have Jesus living in us and amongst us and we don’t like necessarily what’s going on around us, we find it difficult ourselves, it eats away at our boldness and courage but because of the wisdom and understanding that come from God we can do this fearlessly, without fear”. We can have fearless hearts as we reach out to those around us. That comes from wisdom and understanding.
So wisdom and understanding equip us ready to join with God on mission but then equally comes the instructions that are really important for us today. The first one I think is that we need to have open hands with the gospel. Verse 27 says Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. The message of the gospel is something very good that the world needs. The message of the kingdom of God is something to be shared with everyone around us. Let’s not be a church that holds this to ourselves. Lets have open hands with this good message, this good news, this gospel of Jesus. Millions of people need to hear this message and the last thing the world needs is a church that is holding it all in, lets have open hands when it comes to the message of the good news of Jesus.
The second thing is that we need to be truthful to this message. Truthful representatives of God’s message. Verse 28 says Do not say to your neighbour, “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—when you already have it with you. I think part of that open handedness, part of that integrity and truthfulness is actually the call to stand up now even though it might be difficult, even though we’re in lockdown again, even though there is a pandemic. God is still good, God is still God. His message is still relevant, Jesus still saves and has the answers for life’s challenges. Lets not let that lamp go dim, let’s shine it brightly even now when those challenges abound. And lets not just be limited to our doorstep, let’s look wider, let’s remember that God has called us to preach the gospel to the whole world, it’s not just about us it’s about our community needing to know Jesus.
Channels not Bottlenecks
My final point is let’s not ever be a bottleneck, let’s always be a channel for God’s blessing. It says Do not say to your neighbour, “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—when you already have it with you. We have that message with us now, let’s not close it down and act almost like God on the message. God is proclaiming this message through the church and I reckon our doors need to be opened as wide as possible. Our way of proclaiming it needs to be louder, more direct. Let’s not be the ones who close it down and create a bottleneck when it comes to blessing others, blessing our communities, other people that are reaching out allowing God to get resources to us and through us that we might bless others. I love the way that wisdom and understanding is key to joining in with God’s mission today.
Lets head back to Ephesians 1 and as we think about how we are called to join with God’s mission on the earth today, I want to see the lights come on in all of these houses, in all of our communities, the people that we love and know, our neighbours and friends, strangers as well. I love the way that it starts with knowing God, I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. So God is Missional, and because He is missional, so should we be, because we reflect Him. He’s the one who gives us all of our bearings, all our groundings, all of our identity. So let’s be like him, let’s join in with what God is doing in the Earth today. So today on mission Sunday, let’s give our all, let’s pray for each other, let’s pray for people that we support. Let’s pray for Pastor Leonard and let’s also support them with our resources. We are taking up an offering today for Pastor Leonard, let’s give wholeheartedly as we join in with God’s mission in the world today.God is Missional, and because He is missional, so should we be, because we reflect Him. He’s the one who gives us all of our bearings, all our groundings, all of our identity. Click To Tweet
God bless everyone, it’s been so good to be with you, being able to share from God’s word. I’ll see you soon, God bless.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.