From the onset of Jesus’ ministry to the day He departed, the pronouncement of the Kingdom of God being close at hand was His catch cry, exemplifying His mission. Jesus’ call to mission has been, at times, seriously missed by many of His followers.
So what is the mission He calls us to?
We are called to live a new life, an impacting life. The model Jesus set was one of community, drawing others into the community of faith through the reality of God’s power and presence touching their lives. This means that understanding the spiritual dynamics around people is important. It is never about a formulaic method.
When the disciples unsuccessfully prayed for a demonised boy with the presumption that there was a formula they could follow, Jesus said they were faithless and perverse. He then instilled a new idea - that each situation is different and that this one needed prayer and fasting. It was clear that fleshly ideas don’t work.
Acts 4:29-31 shows the disciples had learnt these lessons when they prayed, “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” Powerful things happened!
They clearly understood the implications that the gospel included all these components.
Communicating the gospel is not about racing into a conversation. It is about caring for the person. When Jesus befriended the Samaritan woman and disclosed what He discerned about her, her response was astounding. She invited everyone to come and hear the One who told her everything about herself.
In the light of this, it is not surprising the Billy Graham Association discovered that 90% of people taking a first step into the Church to follow Jesus do so because they felt someone was being a real friend.
Not only is the woman touched by Jesus, but her testimony then becomes incredibly effective. Your testimony is one of your most powerful impact points. As with the woman, there is no real argument with what is your experience. But it has to be a present, living story.
I wonder what Jesus would say to us? Are we being faithless and perverse like the disciples, or in trouble like the churches of Revelation 2 and 3? Would He be harsher today on the selfish nature of people who never operate in His community with His power, even refusing to carry the message of the hope of the world?
The basics of the good news of the gospel: how Jesus came from heaven and died on the cross, taking on the punishment that we deserve and rose from the dead so that you and I might live, has never been the whole message of the mission of the gospel.
That information is true, but without the methods of communicating it that Jesus modelled, it is a powerless, shallow, ineffective message. The ‘E’ word (evangelism) has been distorted and hated because of the powerless western world’s ‘mind centred’ approach.
Greg Laurie says, “What happened when Peter, James, and John went out fishing on their own? They caught nothing. Why? They were going out in their own ability and trying to make something happen. They needed Jesus there to guide and direct them. After He came aboard Peter's little boat, everything changed for them”.
We all need Him in our boat.
The New Testament states that it is a responsibility, immense privilege, and enjoyable journey together as little ‘copies’ of Jesus, to do what He did the way He did it.
His call after all is, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matt 4:19)
Gary Colville is a popular PK speaker and long-time friend of the PK ministry. He has served as Senior Pastor of Hosanna Porirua for more than 35 years, retiring in 2020.