John 20:21 – The Missional Call3
“So Jesus said to them again, “ Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” (John 20:21)
The words of Christ in this verse highlights the missional call for the church. Here Jesus says, “Peace be with you” to His disciples in 20:19. He then shows them His hands and side. Those who spent so much time with Him rejoice at the visible proof that it was indeed the Master. The wounds in His hands and side are also proof of His love not only for these disciples but also for the world. The Apostle John says in John 3:16 , “For God so love the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (NASB) This love provided a way that sinful humanity could be in right relationship with the Creator. This good news or Gospel is carried to various places and cultures through the means of those who benefit from the good news. (Acts 1:8)
Christ humbled Himself by putting on flesh and coming to live among those who were in constant opposition to the will of the Godhead. In John 20:21, Jesus proclaims “peace” a second time as He gives His disciples a mission. He instructs them to model His life. He points to His obedience to the Father by coming in flesh declaring freedom from legalism and the loveless lifestyle of men. He waged war against man’s proclivity towards disobedience. He remains victorious over the power of sin. The action of the Father sending the Son is now passed down to the Son sending His disciples. Centuries later the contemporary Church is the recipient of the same model and mission. We are called to be incarnational and to communicate the good news that frees men and women from the shackles of sin. We are incarnational when we humble ourselves and identify with those we serve. For example, Jesus was born in a manger, lived among the working class and experienced poverty although He had the option of a lavished lifestyle. Jesus intentionally spent time with those who realized they need a physician. Incarnational does not mean that we merely emulate those we are serving but instead we mirrors the example of Christ–we empty ourselves of selfish ambition and become obedient to the will of the Godhead. The gospel of Christ translates into better lives, better communities, a better society and not simply bigger heads, bigger bank accounts and bigger press releases. I believe that we are being missional when we identify and love those who are lost and communicate good news in a way that does not exchange it for another message that brings momentary cultural acceptance.
The missional call of Christ is often missed by churches who have become focused only on internal matters. Many seek to keep church goers comfortable so that things remains profitable. The much sought after comfort that the church craves is often at the expense of the missional call. Many have no budget limit for denominational annual gatherings or building projects but when the idea of mission is considered many believe that passing out tracks, screaming through a bull horn or having church outside in the summer months qualifies as being the sent people of God. While there is nothing inherently wrong with these efforts they are sometimes utilized in isolation and they fails to identify (incarnational) with those who are lost. Many churches will observe that membership is dwindling and so a solution becomes buying more tracks and scheduling more Saturday distribution efforts. Some will go a step further and purchase prepackaged ministry tools that take no consideration for context; figuring if it worked for someone else it should work for us. Thank God for those churches that at least make an effort–there are many who simply seek to identify with the lost but carry no gospel at all.
We are in dire need of change.
“Is it biblical to defnie the missionary task of the church as reaching all the unreached peoples of the world? Or is it sufficient to say that missions is simply the effort to reach as many individuals as possible in places different from our own?”In my opinion, it is our job to reach every unreached person in the world, whether they be in Hattiesburg or Africa. Temple does the Urban Outreach which is a great example of that. We are helping people receive Christ right here in our back yards. It just shows that mission work is needed everywhere, not just in third world countries.
Our blogger fnrieds Jeff Richard Young and Kiki Cherry have both posted on this same subject from different perspectives. I posted a comment response on Jeff’s blog.What I’d like to add here, though, is agreement to your overall statement about the need to formulate entrance strategies. Jesus seemed less interested in maintaining an image for the religious establishment than He did for impacting his world.One of the questions that frequently comes up with our church planters and new believers in the house churches, is whether or not they should continue to attend parties, celebrations, etc. with people from their former life. They usually expect us to afirm their separation from the world. Instead we encourage them to do just the opposite. Go back in and befriend those family and fnrieds, don’t abandon them. Let them see you in your new walk with the Lord and see how Christ has changed your life. When invited to participate in anything they find objectionable (drinking, dancing, etc.) don’t make a big deal out of it ask for a different non-alcoholic drink, etc. but let people see you enjoy being with them and that you haven’t rejected them as persons whom God loves.To make a long story short, this advise always leads to discussion, but I truly believe Jesus taught we are to be salt and light in the world. How can they taste and see us if we turn our backs on them and hide out behind the four walls of the church? The only way to make disciples is to follow Jesus pattern when his new follower Matthew the tax collector invited him to a party with all his buddies. Did Jesus turn down the invitation? No, he went and was looked down upon by the Pharisees and condemned for his going!Sorry for getting a little off-topic from the schooling issue, but to me it very much relates to our mindset as Christians.
Sorry that my response did not come…it was not intentional. Appreciate your insight