Mission Unaccomplished ~ Life Lessons in Acts

Honesty time.

I can’t remember the last time I shared the gospel message with an unbeliever.

There. I said it. Wow! Even typing that was difficult.

I’ve been walking with the Lord for almost 18 years now and I can remember a time when all I did was invite unbelievers to church. I would lead bible study with anyone who would hear. I was about the mission. But somewhere along the way I became a minister solely to believers. I had a passion for helping them grow in their faith, so I discipled, mentored and lead bible studies to help them mature. My ministry became solely to the church and to the Christians. Don’t get me wrong. There is a place for that ministry. Its biblical, its valuable and it’s necessary. No doubt about that. The problem, however, is when the ministry to the church comes at the expense of the ministry to the un-churched.

Hear these words of Jesus,

“Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.””

Acts 1:4-8 NASB

These were the last words of Jesus spoken to his disciples before ascending to heaven. His last words. Out of all the time spent with them. Teaching them. Growing them. Performing miracle after miracle in front of them. The last words he says to them can be pretty much summed up to this:

Don’t leave. Wait for what I promised you. I am going to empower you to do what you cannot do in your own strength. You have a mission. Fulfill it to the uttermost.

This is it. Jesus is telling them that this moment is it. This is what everything up until this point has been about. His coming, His ministering, His dying, His resurrecting. All of it has been leading up to this moment and this mission. He tells them to take what they’ve learned, take what they’ve seen and now do the work.

Why was this the very last thing he chose to say to the disciples?

Don’t leave. Wait for what I promised you. I am going to empower you to do what you cannot do in your own strength. You have a mission. Fulfill it to the uttermost.

Last words are known to convey a sense of importance and urgency. So isn’t it amazing that the most important thing on the mind and heart of Jesus before He ascended back to heaven was making sure His disciples knew to complete the mission.  He spent 33 years of his life here on earth prepping for what was to come. Every single action intentionally setting up the next. All so that in the end He could defeat death, rendering Satan powerless and rendering us victorious in Him. And now He says to his disciples, the hard work is done, go tell them they are free.

After all, this one mission is what everything boils down to right? Jesus came so that lives would be changed, souls would be saved and hearts forever be transformed. If those things don’t happen, if that mission is not being carried out, then everything leading up to it was for nothing.

So, knowing that this was the last thing on His heart, I have to ask myself, “Is it the first thing on mine?”

Am I about His mission?
Have I made His mission My mission?

Gosh, It’s so easy to get caught up in this life of just trying to make sure that we are living right and growing in our faith etc. And those are all necessary things, but Friends, the last thing Jesus was concerned about before leaving this earth was the mission. His heart bled for the mission. For the people we walk by on the streets daily. For the hopeless ones struggling just to hang on another day. For the ones hiding behind the painted smiles needing to know there is a God who loves them.

His heart bleeds for them just like it bleeds for us. So are we spreading the Gospel and letting them know that? Or has our Christianity solely become about us?  Even as I write this I am so convicted because I sometimes forget that the entire point of my faith is not just to keep it to myself, but to be his witness and share it to the uttermost. People are dying. Their souls are thirsting for a Savior. And we have the answer. I have the answer. You see, we are supposed to minister to the church so that they can be the church to the un-churched. That’s the whole point. It can’t just stop with us, but for some reason, oftentimes, it does.

If I’m honest and I look around at my current life I would see that I rarely even find myself in environments to share the gospel. I have unintentionally and maybe partly intentionally cultivated a culture of comfort for myself. The comfort of a Christian community. I don’t need to share the gospel when all my close friends are believers. I don’t need to share the gospel if I never engage in conversations with those of a different faith than mine.  You see, in the culture of comfortable christian community the mission becomes irrelevant. Not irrelevant in the sense that it doesn’t mean anything to us, but irrelevant in the sense that we aren’t the ones who need to hear it anymore. We aren’t the ones who are dying without a Savior. We aren’t the ones whose souls are hanging in the balance. Yet we stay in our comfortable circles and keep the truth away from the ones whose souls are.

It’s easy for us. Its been real easy for me. And as my life has stayed busy, comfortable and full I have slowly drifted away from the actual call. It was never supposed to be about just me. It was always supposed to be about them too.

For Him, it was always about them too.

So what would our lives look like if the mission of Jesus Christ took priority? If His mission was on my heart as much as it was on His then how would my conversations change? If the soul of the next person I encountered was the only thing on my mind what questions would I ask?

Its scary. I know. Evangelism can be scary. But as I sat before the Lord one morning pondering all these revelations, convictions and even fears in regards to this area I realized that my reasons for not doing it all stem from one thing…selfishness.

Every excuse I can come up with can be broken down to a form of protecting self. Honestly, I believe that if we were to leave ourselves out of it 100%; all our hesitations, all our fears and attempts to protect ourselves and our egos, then we would become fearless in our pursuit of Jesus Christ and His will being manifested in the earth. Fearless.

If self were removed we would become consumed with the mission as much as He was consumed with the mission. It’s then that we would invite that friend to church and or that neighbor to Bible Study. Because it’s when we take “self” out of the equation that we begin to have room for others. The others that Jesus bled and died for.

You know The best part about this, and the part that I often forget, is that we were never designed to carry out this mission alone. We have the divine power of the Holy Spirit clearing paths and softening hearts before we even open our mouths to speak. He is just waiting on willing children. Willing children. We have every thing we need and we have everything they need.

So I’m committing to take myself out of my comfortable christian community and into a dying world that needs what I have. I haven’t figured out exactly what that looks like but I am committing to intentionally putting myself in environments that are scary and that go against my selfish nature. I want God to provide opportunities and give me the courage to take them. I want to even do something as simple as paying closer attention as I grocery shop or stand in a Starbucks line. Let me not run down to skid row with the Gospel message and yet overlook the bagger at the checkout line who needs to hear the exact same thing.

Friends, we have a mission. We have been equipped. We have been empowered. Now we must be obedient. If It was the last thing on His heart, shouldn’t it be the first thing on ours?

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