Football season has reached its peak. Time for the National Championship game is drawing near. Seriously, its hard to walk into a room full of guys without the topic of conversation veering towards the topic of college football. But have you ever asked yourself what the point of football really is? You may be thinking, “Well, the point is that I enjoy it and it makes me happy when I relax and what the games.” True enough, but if you were actually on the team, what is the point of the game? Basically to score touchdowns that ultimately lead to Championships! To a football player, that is the goal. To play the game with all their might, and to score.
Now imagine that I approached you to have a conversation about football. But I had some ground rules before we began conversing. What if I told you, “If we are going to talk about football, I have one rule. You cannot mention winning, losing, or championships. Other than that, we can talk about football.” That would narrow down our conversation on the game quite a bit! If we were going to have a talk about the game of football, yet we couldn’t talk about the goal of the game, then we really cant talk about football!!
Ive been doing quite a bit of thinking during this Christmas season. I have asked myself what the true meaning of Christmas is. More than that, what is the goal of being a true Christian? Whenever I preach a sermon or teach a class, regardless of the text Im in, more times than not I touch on the topic of missional living for Christ. I talk a lot about mission. Some would say almost to a fault. Ive actually heard people comment that they would prefer to hear sermons that don’t talk about missions.
But to me, this is exactly like trying to have a conversation about football without talking about touchdowns.
If we are students of God’s word, then we would realize that the goal of Christianity is Glorifying Christ through obedience to His mission. Jesus Himself was sent by God on a rescue mission to save His children from their sins.
“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:8.
In Genesis, God sent Abraham on mission.
“Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” Genesis 12:1.
God sent Moses on mission.
“Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” Exodus 3:10.
God sent the prophet Isaiah on mission.
“And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” And he said, “Go…” Isaiah 6:8-9.
God sent Nathan to King David on mission.
“The LORD sent Nathan to David.” 2 Samuel 12:1.
God sends Jonah on mission.
“Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.” Jonah 1:2.
God appointed and sent Jeremiah on mission to be a prophet to the nations!
“Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:4-5.
God told Malachi that he would send John the Baptist on mission.
“Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me.” Malachi 3:1.
God sent the disciples on mission.
“Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.” Luke 10:3.
God sent the rebellious Saul (who became Paul) on mission.
“But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” Acts 9:6.
God sent Ananias to Saul to cure His blindness and minister to him.
“So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 9:17.
I could keep going, for these are just a few examples. On practically ever page of scripture, in every story, we cannot get away from the fact that the God of the bible is a God of mission! God sends people to accomplish His will! And if you are sent with a task, you are on mission! The whole point of being a Christian is living your life for Christ! And living for Jesus is not just being a good, moral person. Living for Jesus is putting your desires behind and living for His mission.
To grow tired of the mission of Christ is to make Christianity about us and not Him.
So how can is it that we have grown cold and almost indifferent to the message of missions? I am always drawn to examples from my everyday life with my kids. My kids love it when I tell them that I love them and tell them how good they are. My kids love it when I give them gifts! However, when I ask them to do something for me, like chores or helping out around the house, they don’t like those talks so much.
In the same way, much of our culture has made Jesus more about themselves. We love the messages about God loving us and God giving us eternal life. But when it is brought to our attention that God wants us to do something, we get uncomfortable and would rather hear a message about how good we are.
We love hearing about what Christ has done for us, but we shudder at the thought that we might actually be called to do something for Him.
Much of this false Gospel is due to the ever popular prosperity gospel that is widely televised today. We have grown numb to the true message of the gospel and sought out a false version that doesn’t convict or interfere with the desires of our flesh. Yet in this, culture has forgotten the words of Paul.
“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20.
Paul plainly states that once we become Christians, our old selfish ways die. They are crucified with Christ, because He died to save us from living for ourselves. Therefore, if we are truly regenerate, we now seek to live for Him!! We put the desires of our flesh behind.
So what is the mission of every believer in Christ? What does Jesus call us to do?
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” Matthew 28:19.
If you claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ, you cannot escape the topic of mission. And to grow tired of the mission of Christ is to openly walk in disobedience.
“Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” John 20:21.
God sends those whom He calls on mission for His glory. And this should excite us! And if you profess Jesus as Lord, He is sending you.
It is my prayer that God will use these verses I have listed above to awaken some to the reality that you cannot separate the mission of Christ from the Gospel. The good news is that Jesus was sent to save us from our sins. And now, He is still being sent through His followers. We have a mission as the body of Christ. It is an inescapable fact that is found all throughout scripture. The problem many times is that we don’t want to see it.
There are those who would call this obsession with living missional for Christ radical. Ive even heard it said to me that Jesus didn’t call everyone to live so radically for Him. But according to scripture, I only see two classifications of Christian. Those that are radically on fire for Him, making the point of their lives the mission of Christ. And those that don’t know Him. Harsh words to think about, but let us consider scripture.
“I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! ” Revelation 3:15-16.
You are either hot for Christ or cold. What about that middle ground? What about those who don’t want to be too radical for Jesus, they just want to profess Him as Lord and try to lead a moral life? Well God would consider them to be lukewarm in their faith. Ive often heard people use the term, “lukewarm Christian” to describe someone who really isn’t living for Christ. But notice in the verse above that the word Christian is not mentioned after lukewarm. In fact, God says that if a person is lukewarm, he wants to spit them out of His mouth! That is to have nothing to do with them! To be lukewarm is to be separated from Him. Do we go through dry seasons where we are not living as close to God as we could? Absolutely! But for the true Christian, God will not allow you to stay there. The true Christian is marked overall with a life of passion to serve on mission for His glory!
““Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it..” Matthew 7:13-14.
Two roads. One that is narrow, meaning it is hard. It takes denying our flesh to stay on this road. And then there is a broad road that most people will travel, because it is easy and pleasurable to us. Notice there is no middle sized road. There is no road where you can live in the narrow way when we want and then broaden out. The road to life is narrow, and few will find it. Why will few find this road? Because it is our human nature to make everything all about us, including Christianity.
The startling things about the above verse in Matthew is that when Jesus is speaking of few people finding the narrow road, He is not talking about people who don’t come to church. Jesus is saying that out of those who would say they profess Him as Lord, few of them will actually find eternal life!! Again, this is scary to think about! How do we know this?
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ Matthew 7:21-23.
Notice that Jesus says many will say to Him Lord, Lord! Many will begin to spout off all the good works they did in His name during their lives! Think about this. A person that never professed Him as Lord would not be emphatically saying, “Lord, Lord!” In the Hebrew, if the writer or speaker repeated himself, making a strong statement! Also, a non believer would not be boasting to God about all the church activities he or she was involved in.
Here is what we should take away from this. Does our profession of Christ match up with the life that we live? What is the goal of your Christianity? Is it do come to church once a week and just be a good person? Or is it truly to give your life away? Do you merely pray for those who don’t know Jesus, or do you feel a responsibility birthed out of a broken heart over their lostness to actually go to them? Not to just invite them to church, but to build a loving friendship with them and to point them to Christ. We all thank God for the gift of eternal life given through Jesus during the Christmas season. But have you realized that because Christ was sent to you, you also now have been sent?
The goal of Christianity is not to be moral and hear nice sermons about how to improve our lives. Although this is part of the Gospel, it is not the goal. The goal of Christianity is mission driven. Only a spectator would think that the goal was about making him happy. One who is actually on the team knows that Christ was sent, and now He sends those who are His. The true Christian is not a spectator, but he or she is now on the team. They are agents in God’s global plan of the reconciliation of the world.
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:18-21.
There is the game plan, the goal, and the mission. So the question we must ask ourselves is, “Am I just a spectator, or am I on the team?”
You cannot talk about football without talking about the goal of scoring. And until professing Christians begin to realize that the goal of Christianity is the salvation of His children, and that we have been given the ball by coach Jesus, then we only prove that we do not understand the Gospel. You cannot begin to live for Him until you have the end goal in mind. Christianity is not about us. The goal is to glorify God to the ends of the earth in everything that we do. It is all about Jesus.