Saturday, January 23, 2016

Identity in Christ - 58 (Sent Ones)

After Jesus rose from the dead, he walked with his apostles for 40 days. First, they needed to get used to the fact that he rose from the dead. Second, ne needed to make sure the apostles understood his last instructions.

Jesus came to demonstrate his Father's nature to people, to be an example of how to live, to invite people to enter into relationship with his Father,  and to restore his family.

Now, this mission falls to his family.  He sends his family into the world.

◆ God's Perspective
When we chose to follow Jesus, we chose to walk in relationship with the Father. We chose to become part of his family. We chose to become a member of his kingdom. And the Kingdom of Heaven is at war with the kingdom of the world.  All the members of the Kingdom of God are soldiers. All the soldiers of the Kingdom of God are part of an invasion of the kingdom of the world.

It is an invasion, because God seeks to replace the kingdom of the world with his Kingdom.

Of course, it is not a normal war. There are no guns, no bombs, no tanks. The weapons we wield as soldiers of Christ are: love, prayer, faith, grace, and the message of Jesus. Those who are "conquered" receive grace, God's love, sonship, forgiveness,  and life.

We wage war by living as much like Jesus as possible.

The word "apostle" is derived from a word in the original language meaning "sent one." The word "mssionary" is derived from a word in another language meaning "sent one."

We are all sent ones. We are all apostles. We are all missionaries. We are sent from the Kingdom of God into the kingdom of the world. We are sent to live like Jesus in the world. We should act like Jesus, follow his pattern and lifestyle,  and proclaim his message.

Some of us will be missionaries thousands of miles away from the p.aces we were born. Others will be missionaries in our home towns. But no matter where we are, we are missionaries in the places we are in.

◆ Living My Life
As we are soldiers invading the enemy's kingdom, we ought to be prepared for this warfare. However, like physical armies, the soldiers in God's army have different roles. But they also have some of the same training.

1. We ought to be able to give an explanation of Jesus' message.

There are many methods developed for this. Each has different strengths and weaknesses.  And I do not have any particular recommendation, one over another. But, as Jesus followers,  we ought to be able to use one.

And we ought to be wise enough to realize that no conversation will follow the pattern of our tool. Those we speak with will bring in their experiences, problems and objections. They will feel the need to debate, rather than discuss. (Note the difference.) Seeing all problems as nails, and the gospel as a magic hammer, will move no one closer to Jesus.

Jesus met people at their point of need, at their place in life and experience, and applied the gospel to that point. We need to learn to do the same.

2. We need to have our hearts around the world.

Most of us will never go to the ends of the earth.  Our part of the invasion will be waged from our front porch and living room, into our home town. However, our Father's heart is not only in our lives homes, our neighborhoods and local taverns. It is also 10,000 miles away with peoples of different languages, cultures, and circumstances.
Our hearts should be like the Father's heart.

3. We need to remember to use our greatest weapon.

Our greatest weapon is God himself. The Holy Spirit.  Although, we cannot command him, as if he were a tool on our utility belts, we can appeal to him. We can connect with him, focus our hearts, and appeal for him to act.  I do not fully understand the ways of prayer. Why do we need to invite the Father to act on behalf of people he loves, people for whom he is chomping at he bit to act for?  But when we pray, a door seems to open in the spiritual realm. A door our Father seems eager to jump through, and act in ways that bring his presence into whatever situation is on the other side of the threshold.

We need to find ways to invite God's presence into our homes, neighborhoods, and towns. We need to find ways to invite God's presence into homes10,000 miles away. We need to find ways to apply the gospel to people's lives -- in demonstrating God's nature, in love and service, in proclaiming Jesus' message.

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