First Mennonite Church
May 15, 2016
God is a Missionary God
Text: 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything
old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and
has given us the ministry of reconciliation;
19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself,
[d] not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of
reconciliation to us.
20 So we are ambassadors for Christ, since
God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf
of Christ, be reconciled to God.
21 For our sake he made him to be
sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the
righteousness of God.
Today I want to start a new short series on doing missions, outreach if you
wish, and church revitalization. Sharing our faith in today’s pluralistic
world is the biggest challenge the church has. There are competing voices
on what truth is. Relativism is the companion of pluralism. Relativism is
the idea that any idea can be truth in its proper context and therefore any
claim of ultimate truth becomes impossible to defend. This forces the
church to re-think its proclamation and its method of communicating Jesus
as the only Truth. Let’s not go further into the current philosophies of our
world; let us focus on what we want to look at in this series. I want to
explore with you four general issues on the topic of outreach and
Why do we need to share the gospel? Why should we get involved in
How should we engage mission work? How do we share the gospel?
Does our theology, doctrines, and biblical interpretation affect the
way we share the gospel and also define the result of our outreach?
What should be central when we do outreach?
What is needed, in terms of personal empowerment and
congregational culture and environment to be effective in outreach?
So, we begin with the first issue: Why do we need to share the gospel? Why
should we get involved in mission work?
First let me ask, is the desire for our church to grow born out of love andconcern for others to experience the blessedness of fellowship with Godthrough Christ? Or, can there be ulterior/hidden motives of why we wouldlike to see more people sitting in our pews? There are various reasons why achurch might want to grow. Some churches equate numbers, as in churchmembership size, with success. For some if the church has a smallmembership it is a sign of defeat while if a church has a large membership,to them that is a sign of spiritual success. Here, I have noticed that everytime we are preparing the budget the issue of church growth comes intoview. Few church members mean less money to use for maintenance, salaryincrease, and to cover increasing recurring expenses. Few membershipmeans less to invest in any type of community outreach. In such instances,it seems as if the reason we would like to have more people is not primarilybecause we desire for them to experience fellowship with God, but a way toincrease our financial pool. Therefore, the question: Why do we need toshare the gospel? Why should we get involved in doing mission work?The most frequent response to this question is that in Matthew 28, verses19 and 20, Jesus gives the command:Go therefore and make disciplesof all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and ofthe Son and of the Holy Spirit,and teaching them to obeyeverything that I have commanded you. And remember, I amwith you always, to the end of the age.”Yes. Jesus gave the command to his disciples to go and make disciples of allnations. Jesus gave the command to spread the gospel. Why did he give thiscommand?The answer to the question as to why the church should announce the goodnews of Jesus is because the God who sent Jesus is a missionary God fromthe very beginning. The great Puritan theologian and preacher JonathanEdwards painted a portrait of the Trinity in which the love and joy amongthe three divine persons overflowed and could not be contained. And Godyearned to express and replicate this love, joy and beauty. God, therefore,created the world and the pinnacle of his creation was mankind. Inmankind he inscribed the triune beauty, even if to a smaller degree. Thebeauty of Eden and the intimate relationship between Creator and creaturewas broken when disobedience happened. God not only continued to yearnfor that relationship but he was actively engaged in seeing that therelationship be restored. In the pages of the Old Testament God is
portrayed as constantly wooing and pleading, calling and seeking his peopleto come to him. The coming of Jesus, his ministry, and work on the cross ispart of that ongoing project of restoration God embarked upon since thefall. God created humankind with the intention of sharing God’soverflowing love and intimate fellowship. But sin created an ongoingemptiness in the human heart. Sin brought upon humans an incurablelonging which only God’s fullness can fill. This brokenness is not onlydescriptive of Adam and Eve or of ancient Israel, but that of every humanbeing who has lived and is living today.A survey was done among high school seniors who were already lookingpast their graduation day. They were asked what they believed is thegreatest challenge their graduating class would face in their lifetimes. Therange of their answers was wide. They listed world poverty, decaying socialtrends, divorce, suicide, materialism, climate change, terrorism, familycrisis and the quest for personal happiness and fulfillment. In short, theiranswer was having to confront the challenges of human brokenness.The truth is that no part of the human condition remains untouched by theeffects of sin. Human brokenness is a universal problem. No culture, norace, no geographical location is exempt from the effects of sin. Sin hascaused humans to live in alienation. In every setting there are those who lieand those who live in deceit. There are those who wrongfully take what isnot theirs, and there are those who do not want to share. There are thosewho cheat and act violently against their spouse or children. In everysetting there are those who treat both friend and enemy in ways that defyall sense of human dignity. In one phrase, our world is broken and wedesperately need God’s shalom. We need God’s peace.When the apostle Paul was making his case on the difference Christ makesin those who choose to respond to the message of the cross and who yieldtheir lives to the lordship of Christ, Paul writes:17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everythingold has passed away; see, everything has become new!18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, andhas given us the ministry of reconciliation;19 that is, in ChristGod was reconciling the world to himself, not counting theirtrespasses against them, and entrusting the message ofreconciliation to us.20 So we are ambassadors for Christ, since
God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalfof Christ, be reconciled to God.21 For our sake he made him to besin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become therighteousness of God.In God’s long-range project of restoration, God sent Christ Jesus as hispersonal agent of reconciliation. In the person of his very son, God pleadedwith us to come. Through his only begotten Son God revealed the extent ofhis love of even allowing him to die on the cross of Calvary. God did thiswith the sole purpose of making himself approachable and within the scopeof our comprehension. God went overboard in his desire to connect and toreach out to us humans.In this case, mission is not a human invention. Mission and outreach werethe creation and work of God from the beginning. God embark on this long-range project of redemption, not because we deserved it or because we werecalling for it. God began his project of restoring us to himself becausecommunion and fellowship are the nature of our Creator God. Godconstantly called his people through his prophets. God rejoiced when hispeople responded and turned back to him. But God also lamented when heinquired, “Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, saysthe Lord GOD, and not rather that they should turn from theirways and live”? (Ezekiel 18:23)Can you imagine what you’d be today if God has not been part of your life?Do you think you’d be the same person if God had not taken you by thehand? As for me I can tell you that my life could have been miserable. Igrew up in one of the poorest families in my village. Although my dad wasnot an alcoholic, the way he lived his life would have been enough to causemy life to be possibly worse than his. When I realize how some of myfriends live or how some have died, those whose parents rejected the lifeGod offers, I shudder at the thought that I could have been one of them if itwere not for God’s intervention.My dear friends, everything you see as sad in the lives of those who do notknow God or would not allow God into their lives, could have been thereality of your very lives. Your life is what it is today because God came toyou. Yes, our lives are what they are today only because of God’sintervening grace. Are we perfect or completely whole? Absolutely not. Yet,despite our shortcoming, if it were not for God’s marvelous love through his
Son Jesus Christ, our lives could be in shatters and in misery. But Godreconciled us to himself in Jesus Christ. We were made a new creation, butnot only that. In Christ God began to re-establish the relationship betweenus and himself. Although today we can only see the beauty of thiscommunion between God and us like in a foggy mirror, as Paul would say,yet one day we will see the Lord and be like him. Although there is much forGod to transform in us, yet we anticipate the day when we will be clothedwith his glory. Although we are still anticipating the kingdom of God, he isgraceful to commission us as ambassadors of his message of reconciliation.This is the reason why we should share the gospel message with others.Because we have been reconciled with God through Christ we are being sentwith the ministry of reconciliation. God . . . has given us the ministryof reconciliation. . . .So we are ambassadors for Christ, sinceGod is making his appeal through us, writes Paul. Just as Christ wasGod’s agent of reconciliation, we are now being sent as God’s agents makingan appeal on his behalf so others might be reconciled with God as well.Because we have experienced the joy of being reconciled with God weshould be able to convey the message to others. Because we know what ourlives would have looked like if God had not come into our lives, we shouldbe concerned and grieved for those who have not been reconciled with God.Love for others should compel us to share the good news of the gospel.Concern for the lost and suffering should be the motive we should tell otherof God’s reconciling work in Christ.Let me close with the words of Jesus to Nicodemus: For God so lovedthe world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoeverbelieves in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).For God so loved our relatives, neighbors, and friends, that he sends us totell them about the abundant life Jesus offers everyone who believes in him.So let us go as ambassadors of the reconciling message of Jesus Christ. Letus go and share the good news of God’s love. Amen!PASTOR ROMERO