What should define a healthy church? (Part 4: Connect with God’s Mission)
We are spending a few weeks answering the question, “What should define a healthy church?” Last week we talked about how our identity as human beings is found in community and how, as followers of Jesus, your identity is found in this new community that God is creating.
This final week in our mini series, we want to talk about how a healthy church and a healthy follower of Jesus must go beyond simply connecting with one another and must connect with the larger purpose of God’s mission.
God is a missionary God. To be a missionary God is to be constantly involved in sending and going on a mission. Throughout the scriptures, this is exactly what God does. Even within the trinity, God is involved in sending and going. The Father sends the Son. The Son and the Father send the Holy Spirit. The Son goes, in obedience to the Father. The Spirit goes in the same way.
Beyond this, God is always sending out people for his purposes, his mission. God sent Abraham, Joseph, Moses, the Prophets and so many more. God has a purpose. God is on a mission. What is it?
God is on a mission to rescue people. In the third chapter of the Bible, everything falls apart. God’s creation pushes back against him and things enter into open rebellion. As the king, God would have been entirely justified to just stop everything then and there, but rather than do that, he makes a promise to rescue his people. The rescue plan isn’t clearly explained yet at this point, but the seeds of it are there. God is going to rescue the rebels. He is going to undo what they have done.
We need to be rescued by God and that rescue came at great cost to himself. We are part of that rebellion. Biblically, the Bible says that we “fell in Adam.” In other words, we didn’t hit the ground running and then slowly get worse over time. You and I hit the ground dead. We never stood a chance. We died in Genesis 3, so to speak, and need to be rescued.
This rescue mission is what the Bible is all about. God redeems his glory and his people by coming to earth, dying a criminal’s death, and raising himself from the dead. Peter, the pillar of the early church, says that we were rescued not with gold, but with God’s blood. He died to rescue you.
Once rescued, God involves us in the process of rescuing people. This isn’t just a post Jesus concept. This was God’s story through the scriptures. God always involves his people in the family business of rescuing others, but it is perhaps more pronounced after Jesus’ resurrection. Now, we are commanded to go and proclaim this great rescue to other people until the whole world hears. We are told to go and make God famous in areas that currently don’t know his name. We are implored to go and tell people that there is a Creator God who loves them and demonstrated that love for them by dying so that they could be rescued. To put it one way, God has broken the chains, now we go and rescue the captives.
Even the inward commands of God have outward purposes. But what about all those love one another commands? That doesn’t seem very outward. On the contrary, even the inward commands of Jesus are designed to bring about rescue purposes. Jesus says that it is by our oneness with God and one another that the world will know we aren’t peddling snake oil. True love and grace for other believers is important, in large part, because God wants other people to know that he is real.
As a church, and as a Christian, you exist for the benefit of other people. Biblically, the church exists primarily for the benefit of those who do not belong to it. Practically, things don’t seem that way. Many churches are more like country clubs than rescue stations. This happens when we forget our purpose. We are a communal people, yes, but we are a missionary people as well. We are called to be a family of missionaries, laying down our preferences and resources for one another and for the great mission of God.
Jesus Christ died to rescue his enemies. We need to demonstrate and declare that ridiculous love to the world around us.