BEING ON MISSION AS WE WALK IN GRACE
God calls us as his church to be a community of believers who follow Jesus together in doctrine and in practice, knowing him and making him known, walking in grace together on behalf of others. Our God-given mission as God’s church is to follow Jesus together until that is the case for every single person we can reach. It begins among ourselves. In other words, we are to love, pray, minister, serve, worship, disciple, and be on mission until we all know Jesus as our Savior and King and are making it known with our words, deeds, and lives that he is Savior and King.
Yet, that is just the beginning of our mission. For as we do that for one another we must be reaching out to others beyond ourselves, to bring them to Jesus so that they too can know him and make him known. So, we must love, pray, minister, serve, worship, disciple, and be on mission to help every person in Tallahassee know Jesus as our Savior and King and make it known with their words, deeds, and lives that he is Savior and King.
Of course, that is not quite the entirety of our mission either, because as we are called to reach Tallahassee, we are called to do our part to reach the ends of the earth. We are called to do this not only as we partner with other like-minded churches, but ourselves, sending out short-term and long-term missionaries, planting churches, and taking the gospel everywhere we can.
This vision and mission ought to be before and behind everything we do as a church, from how our pastoral staff prioritizes and serves, to what our committees and deacons do, to how we worship and teach and preach and minister, what our budget reflects, and how we go out on mission.
However, if we are to be and do this, if we are to grab ahold of God’s vision and be on mission for him, we must know, worship, and follow God for who he really is. We must begin to grasp his overwhelming love and grace for all people everywhere. We must understand what he means when he proclaims that he is a reconciling, saving God. We must run toward him by running toward his word.
We always have to be careful we aren’t making God in our image, a counterfeit idol who fits our preconceived idea of who God ought to be. We can do this by imagining that God is a God of all justice and no mercy, or of no justice and all mercy. We can do this when we substitute our word and wisdom for his word and wisdom. God is both just and the justifier of those who believe in Jesus Christ. It’s only when we begin to comprehend and live into his gospel that we will be Spirit-filled, Christlike women and men who will live for him.
One of the books of the Bible that God uses to really opens up our hearts and help us know and live on mission for him is the book of Jonah. Last year we began going through the book of Jonah together on Sunday mornings, but after two chapters a pandemic hit, and God took us in some other directions. For this first month of 2021, however, we are going to revisit and finish the book of Jonah.
The book of Jonah is very artfully crafted, with a lot of little nuances and a careful structure, to help us see a few wonderful and necessary truths: that God loves all people of all races, that he is working to save a people from all tribes, tongues, and nations, that our mission is to take the gospel to all people, that in order to do that we must recognize and turn from the sinful attitudes we have toward others and toward God himself, and that God is completely just and completely merciful. Jonah is an anticipation of how God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, the Lion of Judah and the Lamb of God in one person, who labels himself the ultimate Jonah (Matt 12:41), so that we could be saved.
Coming to know and follow God in Christ through the Spirit begins for us, as it does for Jonah, with hearing and believing his Word, running toward him to live for him, instead of away from him and his presence. I look forward to worshipping with you over the next few weeks as we seek God together in this portion of Scripture.