Sunday, July 12, 2015

[Matt's Messages] “Sent”

July 12, 2015
John 20:21

You can open your Bibles to John chapter 20, if you want to, but today’s message is going to be very brief. I wanted to give you a chance to hear fully from your team that was sent this week to Pittsburgh to share the gospel with people who need to hear it.

And really, for the message today, I just want to wrap up all of what has been said into one word. A biblical word that I think we should give some more thought to in our lives.

It’s the word “sent.” Or “send.” And it appears in the gospel of John chapter 20. There are actually two different Greek words in that verse that are both translated with the same English word “sent” because the idea is basically the same.

We have been given a mission.

John 20:21 is part of that great story of Jesus’ resurrection. It’s one of His appearances after He was raised, the one right before He encounters Thomas.

And I’m not going to read the whole thing to you. I’ll just say this: the doors were locked and then Jesus appeared and said, “Peace be with you!” and then He showed his hands and side to the disciples and they were overjoyed.

And then he gave them this commission. “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”

One of the things that grabbed me while we were on our trip to Pittsburgh was that the people at the host homes kept calling us, “the missionaries.”

“We’re hosting the missionaries this week.”

“The missionaries are using that room.”

And I thought, “That’s not right. That’s not me. I’m not a missionary.”

And I’m not. I’m not a foreign missionary. I’m not really a cross-cultural missionary. I’m not one of those folks across the back of our wall that we pray for and send money to, may their tribe increase!

We need more foreign missions cross-cultural language-learning take-the-gospel-where-it-hasn’t-been-yet workers to go out into the world and share the good news.

I’m continuing to pray that God will raise up career missionaries from our midst here.

But there is a very real sense in which I was a missionary this week.

I was sent.

I was sent on a mission.

I was sent on a mission with a missions team.

You’ve heard all about it this morning and seen some of our 1,800 pictures.

These folks up here were missionaries. They were sent on mission.

Just like Jesus said to the apostles, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”

Who was the greatest missionary ever?

It wasn’t William Carey, the father of modern missions.

It wasn’t Jim Elliot who gave his life for the mission. Or Elizabeth Eliot who went back.

It wasn’t Hudson Taylor or David Livingstone, as great as those missionaries were.

It wasn’t even the Apostle Paul.

It was Jesus. He was on a mission from His Father.

He came to be the Word. He came to be the Savior.

He was sent!

And after He died and came back from the dead, He sent His people on a mission.

“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”

Now, of course, there are ways in which Jesus was sent that we never will be and the apostles weren’t either.

He was sent to be crucified, and I’m pretty sure He didn’t mean here that all of His followers would be, too.

And there is a sense in which John 20:21 applied most directly to the apostles and not to us. They were all sent as authorized representatives, apostles, who had an authority that we do not.

But still.

I think this is true for every Christian, no matter who you are. No matter where you’re from or where you live.

You and I are sent.

We are to live our lives “on mission.”

Some people are saying we need to live a missional lifestyle.  And by that they mean we are supposed to see our lives today as missionary lives.

Whether or not we ever move.

I put this picture up today for this text because it’s what we normally think of with “sent.”

On the road again.

And your team hit the road this week. We were only 2 hours down the road but it’s different world there.

And we’re not all called to go down the road.

But we are all sent.

“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”

We have a mission–to make disciples of Jesus Christ.

We have a message–the gospel.

And we are sent to share it.

Do you see yourself as sent?

I believe that the church in America needs to increasing grow in understanding that we are missionary church sent to America.

For a long time, because of the rich heritage of Christianity in America, we have had a kind of “home-field advantage,” and have even thought of America as some kind of a Christian nation, if such a thing could exist.

And we’ve gotten comfortable and thought of America as our home.

But we are not home. We are guests here even if we have American citizenship.

We are citizens of heaven.

Philippians 3:20 says, “Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

He’s our King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

And we are to be ambassadors for Him.

We are sent.

Even if we never move an hour from where we were born, if we are Christians, we are SENT to where we are.

Sent on a mission and sent with a message.

And that should increasingly affect the way we think about ourselves and how we should act.

How do missionaries act when they arrive in a new land?

What do they do?

They learn the culture, don’t they?

They learn the language, the customs, and they begin loving the people there.

And they constantly look for ways to bridge the divide with their new neighbors and provide a bridge for the gospel. And it might look like Family Bible Week and the Good News Cruise.

Do you see yourself as an ambassador?

Ambassadors have to live with the values of the land they are from in the land they are visiting. That’s us.

We live the values of the kingdom of Jesus while we live in the world. And we try to bridge the gap.

We give no offense that is not necessary for our mission and our message.

We don’t give personal offense if we can help it. Only that offense that comes with the mission and the message.

We are sent.

I was talking yesterday with Tim & Kelly Beck about their move. They are here this week and then next week, and they’re off to the Harrisburg area.

They’ll come back to visit, I’m sure.

But this couple has a deep and growing sense of how God is calling them to be SENT. God is sending them to that area.

Not to be professional missionaries but to be ambassadors of Jesus over there.

Next week, I’ve asked for them to share a little of their story of how God has confirmed this calling on their lives again and again.

The point is that we are ALL sent.

Whether you go over the ocean (and I’m praying for more of you to go!) or over the 3 rivers to Mount Washington in Pittsburgh (and I’m praying for more of that) or if you don’t even go over the mountain to State College, that you would see yourself as ON MISSION for the Lord.

Sent on a mission to make disciples.

Sent on with message to see people’s lives changed now and forever.

The gospel!