I want to share something with you that flows from the sermons I’ve preached recently. It’s something that can help build encouragement and godly desire within each of us. You see, the Lord has a unique calling and set of gifts (this combination is often called a “charism”) for each congregation. MAMA Church’s charism, from the very beginning, has been intercessory prayer and contemplative prayer. That’s the core of who we are as a community. The unanswered question for us has been, “How does that fit with the great commission (God’s call to make and grow disciples of Jesus Christ)?”
Since we are not allowed to abandon the charism the Lord gave us, we are given the task of discerning the ways in which he is leading us to participate in his great commission. But here’s the catch: Discerning the will of God is NOT the same as brainstorming and coming up with ideas. We’ve gone that route before, and the Lord did not prosper it. We will not go that route again. As we read in Proverbs: “There is a way that seems right to a man (or woman), but its end is the way to death.” If we are attempting to build a community of believers that will last beyond us, it must be built on the foundation of God’s will alone.
What God’s will is for our outreach is, as yet, a mystery – and we must approach it as a mystery. While I cannot say what it is will be, I can say that it will not be at odds with the charism he has already given us. He will not contradict himself and confuse his children. He will build upon what he has already brought forth within our community. So, however he chooses to deepen our charism, it will be a natural outgrowth of the good work he’s already begun within and among us. Our existing mission of intercessory and contemplative prayer will play a vital role in this next step, it won’t be jettisoned by it.
As we begin to seriously discern how the Lord will deepen our charism into evangelization (the sharing of the Good News of salvation with others and letting the Lord use us as a means of bringing people to faith in Jesus) and the ministry of mercy (ministering to the spiritual and corporal needs of others), we need to ask him a vital question: “Am I a believer who is fit for mission?” After all, when we ask ourselves whether we are qualified to do a certain job, we ask whether we have trained ourselves sufficiently for the task at hand. The question of what “job” the Lord will give us is intrinsically tied to what we have allowed him to teach us.
For example, the call to intercessory prayer should be filling us with a longing to see people come to faith in Jesus. It should be filling us with a desire to help bear the burdens of those for whom we’re praying. Likewise, the call to contemplative prayer should be filling us with wisdom about how the Christian life is to be lived. It should also be filling us with a spiritual maturity that makes us uncomfortable with things or attitudes or practices in our lives that are not of the Lord. On top of that, it should be filling us with a deeper knowledge of God’s Word and his priorities – that’s why we read (and contemplate) the Scriptures daily.
When answering the question “who is a believer fit for mission?”, there are some questions we need to ask ourselves. When faced with someone who does not know Jesus as their Lord and Savior, would I know how to introduce him to them? When someone asks me why I’m a Christian, would I be able to share my testimony with them – would I be able to convey to them how Jesus has changed and filled my life with his presence? When someone asks me a difficult question about God’s way of doing things, would I be able to start them down the road of seeing things from a Biblical point of view?
Have I scared you?! That’s not what I intend!! What I do intend is to lead us into some serious “training” to be sent out as missionaries – that we take what the Lord has already done in our lives and link it up with what he wants to do next. That’s why I want us to seriously engage in “The Purpose Driven Life” – so that we will come to know what our particular calling is and how it can find expression in ministry to others. That’s why I want us to read books like Lee Strobel’s “The Case for Christ” and Phillip Yancey’s “The Jesus I Never Knew” – so that we know how to answer the questions that will come to us. That’s why I want us to look into Dr. James Kennedy’s “Evangelism Explosion” – so that we’ll learn how to lead people to Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
In one sense, we need to be more qualified in order to answer God’s call to evangelistic ministry and the ministry of mercy. In another, much more important sense, God will qualify us as he sends us. So, in a very real sense, YOU ARE the believer who is FIT for mission. God does not call the qualified, he truly qualifies the called. And it’s my job as your priest to equip you for the work of mission. I am called to be your teacher and to serve you as an under-shepherd. I am called to challenge you and to make sure that you are stretched. And then I am called to set you loose in the world – a world that is ripe for kingdom harvest.
Some of us may think “I’m not someone the Lord can use in ministry to others; I don’t know as much of his Word as I should and I haven’t learned to hear his voice in my life.” To that I say, “Great! That’s why we’re engaging in this time of discernment and equipping. You’ll learn as you go!” There may be some of us think “This stretches me too far. I’m not comfortable with this.” To that I also say, “Great! Now you’ve accepted the fundamental truth that there are limits to what we can do. This is the only way we can come to know why ‘I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me!’ (Philippians 4:13)”
You may as well know this right now: You have been called and you are being qualified. And there’s no getting around this central point: Because you have persevered in your relationship with Jesus, he wants to use you (and your testimony) to help others do the same. So stay tuned for further information about the “who, what, when, where, and why”! You already know the “how” – his name is Jesus!
Praying for God’s blessings in your life,