"Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father who created all the lights in the heavens." (James 1.17)
of my favorite images for us is a cup or a clay jar. I am an empty
vessel, and I depend on God to fill me. If my cup runs over, it’s only
because God has filled my life to overflowing! The same is true for
you. And the life God pours into our lives, we must not keep in our
own little container, but we must freely share it with others. Jesus said, "If you want
to save your life, you will destroy it. But if you give up your life
for me and for the good news, you will save it" (Mark 8.35). Also, "It
is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 25.30b).
religions assume that their adherents are chosen only to be blessed,
and forget that they are blessed to be a blessing … they become part of
the problem instead of part of the solution.” (Brian McLaren)
week we began a series to help us understand and embrace our role as
missionaries to the Juniata Valley and beyond! As missionaries, we have
a responsibility to serve God and the world. Jesus said, "Much is
required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required
from those to whom much more is given" (Luke 12.48b). And remember
Jesus words following the resurrection: "As the Father has sent me, I
am sending you" (John 20.21).
You and I have been sent into the
world with the same mission that Jesus had — to love the world and
announce that God’s kingdom is here! And Jesus was clearly on a
mission. He came "not to be served but to serve others, and to give
(his) life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10.45).
God is a
missionary God, and we are a missionary people! We are people who are
sent as Christ’s missionaries, or ambassadors, to the world. “Missions”
is not a program of the church, or something we do on the side; it’s
who we are!
With blessing comes responsibility!
Abraham certainly discovered that (Genesis 12.1-3).
God called Abraham while he was in the city of Ur, to leave his home
and to go to the place where God leads him. Abraham’s call begins with
a command: “Go out!” or “Leave your country!” If we’re going to follow
God, it’s going to require total surrender — dying to ourselves, our own agendas, and
surrendering completely to God’s leadership. Like Paul, our lives are
"a drink offering being poured out on the altar" (2 Timothy 4.6b).
did God tell Abraham to go? “To the land that I will show you.” God
doesn’t tell Abram where he’s going to send him. Following God begins
with a step of faith. God requires faith (see Hebrew 11.8-10).
reminds me of the movie, "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," where
Indiana Jones is involved in a search for the Holy Grail, the cup from
which Christ drank at the Last Supper. As the film reaches its climax,
Indiana must go through three tests in order to reach the Grail. In the
final test Indiana Jones comes a huge chasm with no visible way to get
to the other side. He recalls the instructions from his father’s diary,
and finally steps into the void, and to his amazement, his foot comes
down on solid ground. A bridge appeared, but he had to take the step of
What’s keeping us from being missionaries to our
community? Perhaps we don’t grasp the magnitude of God’s love for the
world around us. Or maybe is spiritual apathy, lack of compassion, or
even a tendency to be selfish.
At the recent Men’s Rally,
speaking of drinking from the deep well (i.e. Christ), Bishop Middleton
said, “The deep well is not just for your own benefit. You’re not
called together just for your own enlightenment, but to work together —
the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts. Jesus is laying on you
this night to give your heart to Christ, for the sake of yourself and
the world that is hurting.”
This selfishness can even manifest
itself in our ministry. Instead of helping others beyond the Valley, we
can say we’re going to keep all of our efforts and money here in the
Valley. Yes, this Valley is our primary responsibility, but we also
have a responsibility, particularly as United Methodists who
participate in a larger connection, to bless our world.
said, "But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive
power and will tell people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout
Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1.8). Similarly, I believe
Jesus is sending us to the Juniata Valley, to Huntingdon County, to
Pennsylvania, to the US, and to the ends of the earth!
If we’re going to be missionaries, we must take a step of faith, and live out our faith in Christ, so let’s talk about action.
Action! Being a Blessing
“Our actions are a presentation of our name, our integrity or identity.
… We are not saved by our actions, but we are known by them.” (Michael
Frost and Alan Hirsch)
God has called us to be the church for a purpose. He has sent us on a mission.
church is where the Spirit of God is forming a people who are the
expression of God’s redeeming work in the world. They are the people in
whom the dwelling of God is forming a new creation. They are God’s
witnesses in the world.” (Robert Webber)
The Summons (song by John Bell)
- Will you come and follow me if I but call your name? Will you go
where you don’t know and never be the same? Will you let my love be
shown, will you let my name be known, will you let my life be grown in
you and you in me?
- Will you leave yourself behind if I but call your name? Will you
care for cruel and kind and never be the same? Will you risk the
hostile stare should your life attract or scare? Will you let me answer
prayer in you and you in me?
- Will you let the blinded see if I but call your name? Will you
set the prisoners free and never be the same? Will you kiss the leper
clean, and do such as this unseen, and admit to what I mean to you and
you in me?
- Will you love the “you” you hide if I but call your name? Will
you quell the fear inside and never be the same? Will you use the faith
you’ve found to reshape the world around, through my sight and touch
and sound in you and you in me?
- Lord, your summons echoes true when you but call my name. Let me
turn and follow you and never be the same. In your company I’ll go
where your love and footsteps show. Thus I’ll move and live and grow in
you and you in me.
A prayer of missionaries ….
Dear Jesus, help us to spread your fragrance everywhere we go. Flood
our souls with your spirit and life. Penetrate and possess our whole
being so utterly that our lives may only be a radiance of yours. Shine
through us and be so in us that every soul we come in contact with may
feel your presence in our soul. Let them look up and see no longer us,
but only Jesus. Stay with us and then we shall begin to shine as you
shine, so to shine as to be light to others. The light, O Jesus, will
be all from you. None of it will be ours. It will be you shining on
others through us. Let us thus praise you in the way you love best by
shining on those around us. Let us preach you without preaching, not by
words, but by our example; by the catching force – the sympathetic
influence of what we do, the evident fullness of the love our hearts
bear to you. Amen. (Mother Teresa)