Monday, July 13, 2009

Sunday Reflections: Church On Mission First Step

A couple of Wednesday nights ago, I challenged our church to begin thinking outside the box of our church, and to realize what it actually means to follow Christ. The challenge was, "are we as a church willing to do whatever it takes to spread the gospel to the nations?" I left that night highly encouraged by the movement of the Spirit among our congregation. That night I saw people begin to really think about where their focus was in relation to how we approach "doing church" or "being the church."

Yesterday morning, we looked at 1 Peter 3:18-22 and our call to suffer and persevere with hope. We saw that the call to follow Jesus was a call to risk and endure ridicule and other types of suffering. We saw how Peter was encouraging followers of Christ, who were enduring suffering for that cause, in three ways:
  • Be Encouraged By The Sufficiency of Christ's Suffering
  • Be Encouraged By The Victorious Resurrection of Christ
  • Be Encouraged To Persevere With Good Conscience
We asked the question: "Am I suffering for the cause of Christ?" If the answer to that question is "No", then we must ask a follow-up question, "Why Not?" The whole idea of asking this series of questions is that if the call to follow Christ was a call to suffer for that cause, then why do we not hear or see anyone suffering for that cause? We concluded that if we are not suffering to any degree, then we most likely are not living for the cause of Christ.

On Sunday Night we stuck with the topic of "suffering." We took a break from our study in James, and looked at Hebrews 13:12-16. In this passage the writer (who remains unknown) challenges the reader to go outside the camp and join in Christ's suffering. We realized that the real mission is not what we do "in" the church, but what we are going to do "outside" the church. We realized that in Amercian Church Culture, instead of seeking the Kindgom of God, we generally seek comfort, safety, and security, especially in our churches. Again, it is a call to risk and live in the following two ways:
  • To let the fruit of our lips be that of praising God and proclaiming his goodness to the nations, beginning here at home in our realms of influence
  • To continuously do good to others, even if it means that we have to sacrifice our earthly comfort, safety and security.
All in all, according to what we studied yesterday and read throughout Scripture, that the call to follow Christ is a call to love and suffer for that cause. After the worship service last night an incredible thing happened...we took up an offering for local mission (even though there is a great need to reach the nations, we realize that in order to accomplish that mission, we must first start here at home). I was totally amazed at how our small gathering responded, and for me it was the first step for Idlewild to be a church on mission.

Thank you Idlewild for being an incredibily giving church, and for being so open to hear from the Lord and to catch the vision that Christ has left for His church. Let this be our first step to many more to come. Keep living for the cause of Christ, and know that I, as your pastor, am here walking alongside of you, willing to love and suffer with you. Let us go to him outside the camp and bear his reproach as we reach the nations for his glory.

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