One way we see New Testament Christianity framed in the ministry of Christ is in the connection between relationship and mission.
Mark 3:14 says,
“he (Jesus) appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him (RELATIONSHIP) and he might send them out to preach (MISSION).”
Then speaking to his post-resurrection followers, Jesus says in John 20:21-22,
“As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you (MISSION). And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit'” (RELATIONSHIP).
Then before ascending to heaven, he gave his followers their marching orders for the rest of time in Matthew 28:19-20,
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you (MISSION). And behold, I am with you always to the end of the age (RELATIONSHIP).”
To be in RELATIONSHIP w/Jesus, means to be listening to His voice through regular time with Him and to be empowered by and dependent upon His presence and not our own strength. To be ON MISSION w/Jesus means to continue His work of teaching, proclaiming, healing, having compassion, and sending (see Matthew 9:35-38) and walking in obedience to Him.
We must have both to have a robust, growing, multiplying faith and church. At times in my life, I’ve lived with one without the other. Emphasizing only relationship meant for me becoming a Sunday morning Christian. Making Christianity only about knowing the Bible and being at Christian events. Eventually RELATIONSHIP will dry up and Christianity will become RITUAL and RELIGION. Our relationship with Christ, will lead us to be ON MISSION with Him. Charles Spurgeon may have said it best when he said, “Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.”
I’ve also emphasized MISSION at the expense of RELATIONSHIP in my Christian life, leading to frustration and near burnout as I try to do God’s work in man’s strength, or legalism as I try to DO MORE for God, SO THAT I can be an acceptable Christian. His Mission can only be accomplished in His power. It was that power that turned the frightened, locked away disciples into a missionary force that turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6). And only Christ makes us ACCEPTABLE to God. There is nothing more that we can do to deal with our sin or the worlds. Christ finished the work. Our only task now is intentional obedience, surrender, and dependence upon Him for this mission.
So, are you in RELATIONSHIP w/Christ? If so, are you ON MISSION w/Christ in this world? Healthy disciples grow as these two collide. Church leader, does your church provide opportunities for developing a healthy relationship with Christ as well as opportunities to be on His mission in the world?
This weekend, our church will hold our second Faith in Action Sunday of 2012. Every time there is a 5th Sunday in a month (four times per year) we take the weekend and provide opportunities for people to be on mission in our community. It’s been a great way to emphasize sending and mission among our community of disciples. Check out more info and our Faith in Action itinerary at bridgenorthshore.com/faith-in-action.