Sermon, 8.20.09"How We're Sent Out" Rev. Erik Bonkovsky 2 Corinthians 5:17-6:10
What does it mean when we say we're "sent out?" What does it look like for us as a church? Perhaps the much more important question is "What is the source of our being sent out?"
The way that we're sent out of is by knowing the Jesus has come first to us. We often begin to think that the effects of God's love are the conditions of God's love. We say to ourselves "If I do this, and don't do that, God will love me more." But this is how we fail to see God's point. Being sent out doesn't originate with what I'm doing or what you're doing, it starts with what God's doing. That simple fact has been so widely ignored that a lot of people think of Christianity as a set of rules, or as a convenient way to organize your life. But in reality, God looked down and saw that we were sinners, broken and hurting, and he sent his son to do something about it. So we're not sent out to gain love or approval from God, we already had it in the first place. We're sent out as a natural reaction to what he did for us.
"The secret of the gospel is that we actually do more when we hear less about all we need to do for God and hear more about all that God has already done for us." -- Kevin DeYoung
There are no try-outs for God's grace. All that's left for us to do is to receive it. But the simplicity of this offer is hard for us to accept, because it starts with us admitting that we need help. That we need that grace. Because we've been incubated in this culture where you have to earn everything and you can't be satisfied unless you do, we keep picturing ourselves as needing to earn God's love. In truth it's freeing to know that God has sent Jesus to us, and that we don't have to be "good enough" to get him.
Our motivation for being sent out depends on the constant renewal of this discovery. It's got to be new for us. We need to rediscover this again and again and again. And remember that his work for us was done once and for all, and is still in effect today. When we see that all of our behavior, good and bad, can't save us, and that Jesus can, we really appreciate what has been done. The message is to believe, not to behave.
Jesus is sent to us comprehensively. It involves everything. Jesus has come for every part of who you are; there's no part of you that's too dark or too bad, or that Jesus can't bring hope to. Likewise, in every part of our lives we're sent out to be Jesus' ambassadors.
A good reminder of God's love and what our reaction should be is that we are always failing at this kind of love. When you take your son to a baseball game and he refuses to sit close to the field because he has an irrational fear of mascots, your desire to talk him into it anyway comes from a certain selfishness, and wanting to love him the way you want to be loved. But God loves us unselfishly, always the way we want to be loved. His love just fits. And when we begin to understand how deeply God has loved us, it changes us. So we are sent out only insofar as we know that Jesus Christ was sent for us. And when he came to us, he became like us in every way, and died on a cross to bring us back to the God who made us and loves us.