It always amazes me how the Bible gives such a clear picture of what church should be: A tithing community of Jesus disciples who study His teachings and commandments on loveand service, and then obey them through words and actions.
Jesus calls the Church to be a community that cares so much about one another that those not part of it are amazed and intrigued by it. In this community people are being loved. And through this love people are following Jesus’ teachings; not because they are commanded to, but because they willingly choose to. And in this community, people are using their tithes to reach out to others who are struggling to get back on their feet (Not handouts, but a hand up).
Yet Jesus warns us not to be so wrapped up in the community of the believers that we lose sight of our mission as a church. And our mission is to seek out the lost and the sick that are in need of the hope only Jesus can offer. We have to be a community that sees the world the way Jesus does – wanting to see no one perish.
In Luke 15: 1-7, notice who was gathering around to hear what Jesus was teaching – the tax collectors and the “sinners”.
But before we move on, let’s define who these people are.
The Tax Collector – He was Jewish, yet worked for the Roman Government as a collection agent. His job was to collect taxes from the Jews under the rule of the Roman Empire. He was regarded as an outcast, and therefore could not serve as a witness or a judge, and he and his family were expelled from the Synagogue.
The Sinner – He was an evil person as well as the one who refused to follow the Mosaic Law as interpreted by the teachers of the law. He was commonly known by what he did: a tax collector, an adulterer, a robber, a murderer, and the like.
Now, why would these types of people want to hang with Jesus? They hung with Him because He did not come to condemn them like the religious leaders of His day. Where the religious leaders shunned and criticized these types of people, Jesus listened to them – gave them “the time of day.” Jesus didn’t consider them outcasts. He treated them like they would want to be treated, which gave Him a voice among them.
The Pharisees and the teachers of the law blatantly scorned such people every opportunity they got. They saw themselves as more righteous and were upset that “the sinners” would not listen to them since they were the ones living righteously in “God’s” eyes.
So Jesus took some time to teach a parable to His disciples, which was directly connected to what He was hearing in the murmurs from the Pharisees.
And His point in this parable is this: Mission to the Church: Seek the Lost.
Jesus was clearly speaking to the Pharisees that He came into this world to seek and save those who are spiritually lost, not those who think they are doing everything right and don’t need to be saved. He was saying that the self-righteous aren’t in need of fixing because they already see themselves as not-broken. He was saying the lost are lost forever unless we go seeking for them.
And so He is saying to us that our mission as a church is the same mission He had in His ministry – to seek those who are spiritually lostand bring them home.
LHH must be a missional church.
Jesus calls us to reach out to the spiritually sick. In Mark 2:17 he says, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
And these were the ones He reached out to. He taught and shared with those who were spiritually lost. The self-righteous were not His target. He sought out those who sought out Him. Knowing this should cause you and me to be discerning about whom we seek.
As individual followers of Christ, we have to realize that not everyone is going to follow Christ. Those who are high on themselves (pious in who they are and what they believe) are not the ones Jesus sought. Instead, He sought out those who had no preconceived ideas of who He was and were sensitive to Him.
So if we’re going to pour our lives into people who are spiritually lost, then let’s be smart about whom we seek.
It’s just like fishing – throw out the bait in the water hole, and if you get no strikes, reel it in and move on to another hole.
There will be times where you get no bites no matter what water hole you’re fishing in. There will be other times where you won’t be able to get your bait in the water fast enough. In either case, you’ve got to keep fishing and be selective about where you fish. Fishing in ankle deep water is probably not going to catch you many fish.
In fact, the best places to fish are in those areas that are tough to get to; therefore not a very comfortable experience to get there. Yet when there, you ask yourself, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?” With regards to people, these areas are places of pain, struggle, and mourning – the areas where we’re not quite sure how to act or know what to say. But know this, people who are hurting are more receptive to being found and brought home. They’ve hit rock bottom or know they are heading there, and Jesus is the only hope they have left.
So fish for people who are hurting and struggling. It’s these people who are usually seeking to be found, and Jesus wants to bring them home.
I woud advise you to limit your time fishing in areas that are overfished or are not conducive to holding fish. With regard to people, these are those who don’t want to believe in Jesus because they know they are right and He is wrong. These people are going to take extreme work to bring home. In fact, while you’re trying to lift them out of the hole, they are fighting you to stay in the hole and wrapping your line around debris in the water.
These type of people take a lot of energy and effort, so the best avenue to take with them is prayer. When you see people whose response to the spiritual bait you just threw them is defiance and argument, then your job is to modelChrist through your actions and words – to prayfor them – to pray that God open their hearts to hear what you have to share. Maybe one day they will take the bait.
So we each have an individual mission to share the hopeof Jesus Christ. But if there is one thing I have learned in my 43 years of life, I cannot save the world. Come on, if Jesus, God in the flesh, couldn’t win them all over to His side, what made me think I could? But that’s not an excuse to excuse the mission I’ve been called to do.
Therefore I must plant many seeds and pray that God give me opportunity to sometimes share in the harvest. My part is to be faithful in sharing the message of hope. God must do the rest.
As a body of believers, our mission is to unite together in opportunities of mission.
We presently support a missionary family to Honduras. Our goal, with time, is to support more missionaries that will be able to share the Gospel in regions we cannot.
But, though we aren’t all called to participate physically in global missions, each church of the body of Christ has a mission to its community. This is so much harder than giving money to someone else to do the hard work in sharing the Gospel. It’s harder because we physically have to participate in the community in ways other than rooming in it and going to work. It’s harder because we have to meet new people and we have to be prepared to have conversation with them. And these new people might be “unchurched”, “worldly”, “sinners”, and the like. It’s harder because there is the fear of what could go wrong.
And LHH has done some of the hard work, though the work is never done.
We have been missional in the following ways:
And being missional does not always produce immediate results.
But what are results? Results are not numbers of people coming to church. Results are people coming to worship who are being discipled to follow and obey the teachings of Jesus Christ. Results are disciples.
So LHH will always be a missional church looking to find that one poor soul that is lost to bring him/her home. And that means we have to believe that each of us are called to do our part in reaching out to them.
Though remember, the work is never finished because we are led by the Holy Spirit. And He will continue to provide you and me, the church, opportunities to seek and find the lost – to go fishing.
Just think, as a follower of Christ, where would you be today if no one took the time to invest in you? To ask you about Jesus? To invite you to come and bring you to worship? Would you be calling Jesus, Savior? Most likely not.
LHH will be missional. What part of the mission is yours?