Where does mission start?
The obvious place is the great commission Jesus gives his disciples: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:18-20). Most people understand these verses as saying that mission means that we need to take the gospel overseas, or to other faraway places, where the gospel is not heard. So mission becomes something we do to at a specific time, in a specific place to a specific group of people who have not yet received the gospel.
However, before we jump to this conclusion, let’s pause and ask: what does it take for Jesus’ disciples to go and make disciples of all nations? The answer can be found earlier in the gospel of Matthew, chapter 5 -7. In these verses, known as The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ teaching is not something new. Rather, it is an exposition of what is written in the Old Testament, the teaching of the LORD to his people through Moses, and those servants of old. It’s teaching that brings transformation to his disciples, before they go out following Jesus.
If we read further from chapter 8 and onward, we see Jesus, the great teacher, living a life that matches His word where ever he goes. First, he goes to the Jews and then he goes to the Gentiles. We see Jesus bringing healing, comfort, grace, forgiveness, love and hope to those who are in need. Jesus does all these things not just to reveal to the Jews and to the world that he is the promised messiah, but also to demonstrate to his disciples how they are to live.
With this understanding, mission is about the disciples’ commitment to follow Christ and to be transformed. This is where mission begins. Our challenge is not a lack of knowledge. The challenge is whether we are willing to follow Jesus together, embrace our differences, and own this mission as one body of Christ,
When our pastors begin the church revitalization process, one of the simple questions we asked ourselves was: what is CABC-WR here for? What is the mission the LORD has for us? We need to follow Christ together. This is where mission begins. Our mission is all about Following Jesus, Building Community, Bringing Hope. As Jesus’ disciples, we want to follow him together in community so that we might bring hope to all people everywhere. This is our God given mission.