Sermon, 8.23.09"Sent Out" Rev. Erik Bonkovsky 2 Corinthians 5:11-21
"Missions," which is translated as being "sent out," is a big part of the focus at most churches. But we tend to make three major assumptions about missions:
- Assumption 1: It starts with and is focused on where you're going and who you're going to. This is the first thing that's asked about when a mission trip is brought up. There's this us vs. them mentality that begins to develop when we see ourselves with this triumphalistic feeling. We think of ourselves as saviors going to fix the problems of these people who don't have all that we do.
Truth 1: Being sent out starts with you. With the reality of Jesus Christ in you, and you finding your identity in him. The "front line" for missions is in your heart. It must start there if you're to be of any use. When we miss this point, we turn missions into just another program that our church does. But it's about Jesus in us, and it never gets more complicated than that (v. 12). From this focus, something new is created (v. 17). The following quote from Donald Miller illustrates what happens when we ignore this:
"I could not in good conscience tell a friend about a faith that didn't excite me. I couldn't share something I wasn't experiencing. And I wasn't experiencing Christianity. It didn't do anything for me at all. It felt like math, like a system of rights and wrongs and political beliefs, but it wasn't mysterious; it wasn't God reaching out of heaven to do wonderful things in my life."
- Assumption 2: It's for people who have it all together. You know, those holy folks who glide along rather than walk, and who presumably know regular words but only talk in scripture. We hold these people on a pedestal, and we think to ourselves about missions, "Maybe when I get it together I can do it."
Truth 2: Being sent out is for you. And you don't have to have it all together, because Jesus Christ has it all together. The good thing that we're trying to spread by engaging in missions doesn't belong to us, it belongs to God! And we're just holding it for him; we're just being his jars of clay (2 Corinthians 4:5-7). We need more people to say "I am weak, but he is strong." It would change our whole outlook! But it's counter-intuitive and counter-cultural to take the emphasis off of our own powers.
When you recognize that you don't have it all together and that you are in fact dependent on JC, that's when you're best poised to be sent out. Because you realize that you and your Big Solutions are not the treasure, but that it's what's inside of you that is the treasure.
- Assumption 3: It's just another rule of Christianity that you'd better obey. The idea of doing missions has been hammered into you by preachers, church members, etc., and you always have this feeling that you should be participating in it. Or perhaps it's the thing that's kept you away from the church, because it induces all of this guilt, this weight.
Truth 3: Being sent out flows from JC's control and love (v. 14). Missions is not a condition, it's an effect of God's love. When we really are in a place of assurance and love with Christ, he controls us -- the word "control" literally meaning "held together." His love holds us together, and this love we feel moves us on to affect other people. It changes us to where we can't help but affect them.
It all goes back to the fact that JC was sent out to love you. No matter what you did, or how hurt you are, JC was sent out for you and nothing can change that.