Thursday, October 13, 2005

Vespers Service

I spoke last night at Otter Creek's Wednesday Night Vespers service. The Scriptures referenced are Amos 5:6-7, 10-15; Hebrews 3:1-6; and Mark 10:17-31. Here's what I said:

The Scriptures tonight are not my favorite in the Bible. In fact, they are some of my least favorite, because they speak so strongly to my spiritual condition that I find them hard to deal with in a way that allows me to be comfortable.

The Amos one contains some of the harshest language in Scripture towards those in a place of power. Maybe the only harsher words are to religious people later in this chapter in verses 18 through 27 or Luke 6:24-26. And these words are not toward the "sinful" or "immoral" as we might think of them. It's against the rich, the strong, the powerful.

To tell the truth, as hard as the Amos passage is to read, the Mark passage is even harder. Here you have a young man who was a good and righteous man. He had kept the commandments. He had sought out Jesus, which means he thought Jesus was someone worth seeking out for knowledge. And the man wanted to know how to get eternal life. Jesus says that the one thing that is keeping the young man (that Jesus loves) from the Kingdom of God was his possessions. And when Jesus said this, "the disciples were astounded." Why? Because the man had kept all the commandments? Or because he was rich? The disciples' response indicates that they associated wealth with being in the Kingdom and when Jesus subverts that, they were astounded.

Keep those thoughts in the back of your mind for a moment.

This last weekend, I and 1200 others gathered at the Zoe Conference at Woodmont Hills and talked about being the incarnation of Christ to the world, being Jesus. We even talked about mission and mission statements. Leonard Sweet even said, "Did we write New mission Statements because we didn't like Jesus' for us?" In short, we talked about being missional Christians. Christians that have a mission.

Missional Christians. It strikes me that this phrase is a complete redundancy. To say "Missional Christian" should be restating the obvious. Christians should be completely about mission, the mission of taking the good news of the Kingdom to the world. But the sad thing is that "missional" has become the new buzzword in evangelical churches. And it's sad because apparently we had to be reminded that we have a mission, that we were saved to do something more than sit on our pews and sing pretty songs to each other about how much we love God and He loves us.

On Friday I and 12 others will be flying to England to do some work for the Kingdom. Also on Friday, a team will be leaving here to go down to Mississippi and help with hurricane relief. All of these are good works and Godly pursuits. But I sometimes wonder if we get ourselves into a mindset that we do this work when we go away from home. That I can do work with a church if it's in a different country or that we can help the poor or disadvantaged if they've been affected by a hurricane.

There are those in this city today mere miles from this building that are in need of the good news of the Kingdom of God, that need some of the care that we're giving to those in Mississippi. To be a missionary, or rather to be on God's mission, is not only about leaving home; it's also about affecting our home for God. It's about seeing those oppressed by those in power and validating them and lifting them up. And it could be about selling our possessions, giving to the poor, and following Jesus. And to be a servant like Moses was, someone who gave up being a Prince of Egypt for his people.

We don't have to go away to be on God's Mission. There are opportunities all around us if we only have the eyes to see. And while we may not have to go away to be on the mission, we do have to leave everything behind. All those things that we hold onto more dearly than we do to God, we have to let them go.

I pray that as I, my family, and our friends come back home, we can be as committed to be on God's here in Nashville, as we are to be on His mission in England. And I pray that those who go to help in Mississippi (and even those who can't) will be as devoted to helping the disadvantaged here in Nashville as well.

God calls us to be on a mission. Will we answer that call? Will we be like Isaiah and say, "Here am I! Send me!" Or will we go away sadly because we have too many possessions?

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