The Joy of Participating in God’s Mission

In the gospel text for January 24th from Mark 1:14-20, Jesus comes proclaiming good news. Great news. The long-awaited kingdom of God is near. Jesus comes declaring and demonstrating that a new life, a better way of living life is breaking in on the world here and now. It is a way of living life that is made possible by what God is doing in and through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus; a way of living life that we can never create for ourselves because apart from Christ we are locked in the way of sin and death. We could settle for living the old life. In fact, we cling to the old life even as it is dragging us into death, but we have a God who is not willing to let us settle for less than all He has in store for us. He is not willing to leave us in sin’s grip. So, God sends His only begotten Son to die for us even while we are still stinkers – a theological synonym for sinners. And it is His Son, Jesus, who comes in the gospel text proclaiming good news, who is Himself, the good news.

In that same text Jesus does something remarkable. He is Jesus the Christ; He is the Son of God. He could have carried out this mission of declaring and demonstrating the good news on His own, but He chooses not to. Instead, He calls Simon and Andrew to follow Him, be with Him, and to participate in His mission. Then He invites James and John to join in too. As I read that passage, I was reminded how often throughout scripture God chooses to accomplish His purposes in the world, in and through human beings, in fact, almost exclusively. Abraham. Joseph. Moses. Miriam. Joshua. Rabab. Deborah. The disciples. The woman at the well. Mary Magdala. The list of human beings through whom God carries out and accomplishes His kingdom purposes in the world is long. And now He adds your name and mine to that list.

When Christ made you his own, gave you a new life in baptism, and forgave your sin, something new truly happened. He gave you a calling; a calling to love your neighbor and to be witnesses to the good news. As surely as Simon and Andrew, James and John were called, so are you and so am I. That calling works itself out in all kinds of different ways, in all kinds of different vocations. But the thread that runs through all those calls is being a witness and serving the neighbor as the forgiveness and mercy that Christ is constantly pouring into you spills out to those you encounter.

The Lord has more in store for you and me, and He does not want us to settle for less. He calls us, as He did Simon and Andrew, James and John, to become fishers of people. He invites us to participate with Him as He seeks out those who do not yet know Him as Savior and Lord. He invites us to participate with Him as He reaches out to help Forgetters become Rememberers. In his book on evangelism, theologian Walter Brueggemann, points out that Israel was consistently called by God from forgetfulness to remembrance of His call and purpose for their life as a nation. In the same way, followers of Jesus can be forgetful of God’s activity and presence in our lives, and like Israel, need to be called to remembrance. In these ways and more Jesus calls us to come follow Him and be with Him and to participate in His kingdom purposes in the world; and as we say yes, His joy is made full in us.

I will never forget the joy I experienced when God acted in and through me to give witness to His unshakable love and to share the gospel with someone whom He was drawing to faith in Jesus. When that person responded to God’s activity in their lives, was baptized, believing in their heart and confessing with their mouth that Jesus is Lord, it was amazing—for that person and for me. God completely changed the trajectory of that person’s life and invited me to be a part of it all. What a joy!

Now He is calling all of us in LCMC, just as He called Simon and Andrew, James and John, the woman at the well and Mary, to participate with Him in His kingdom purposes in today’s world. Let’s cast this vision before the members of our congregations. Let’s encourage and equip them to love their neighbors, pray with people, and share their God-stories as the Lord provides opportunities for them to do so. Let’s ask the Lord’s help in creating a welcoming environment for the Holy Spirit who pours God’s love into our hearts (Romans 5:5) and gives us power to be witnesses to those around us of His love and His power (Acts 1:8).

Let’s pray that God would be at work in our association, calling us to follow Him and bringing us together as one so that millions might be drawn by God to faith Jesus as Savior and Lord.

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