This year we have taken on the challenge of building Gospel Connections - finding ways, by the Holy Spirit, to see many come to know Christ as Lord and Saviour and the church strengthened in its fellowship. As noted the past few weeks the meat of our task is contained in the following four objectives;
“Empowered by the Holy Spirit we will strive to build;
Connections with our God through the preaching and teaching of his Word.
Connections with our Family by developing authentic, biblical fellowship.
Connections with our Community by clearly sharing the gospel in deed and word.
Connections with our World by investing in intentionally gospel efforts”.
Today I would like to focus on the last of these four - connections with the world. It is not new for the church to speak of the need for mission outreach to the world. This has been at the heart of the church since its inception (see Acts 2). Obediently she has, following the great commission given by our Lord as recorded in Matthew’s gospel , sought to “make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19). But in the centuries that have followed and do to the great failings even of believers, it has not been at all consistent. Due to a myriad of reasons, including everything from personal ineptitude to sinful bigotry, the church has many times miserably failed in this grand and divine calling. For this we should humbly repent and seek the forgiveness of the Lord.
However the history of the church as it relates to the mission outreach is also one of great triumph as the Lord, in spite of us, has seen fit to build his church, for his glory, in his own time.
The Holy Spirit has raised up millions of faithful, obedient and burdened servants over the years to go and declare the glories of God and his salvation to those dead in sin. The names of Amy Carmichael, Adinirum Judson, William Carey, and so many others remind us of what God can do with those who trust him and are willing to give all for his glory.
Yes, the church has, in multiplied ways, been a great champion of missions and we too desire most earnestly to follow in the paths of those gone before us. This is why our focus is on “investing in intentionally gospel efforts”. In other words our desire is not simply to be doing missions but to be on mission for Christ. In this instance being on mission means effective gospel work beyond our local community (see point 3 above). And the use of the phrase “intentionally gospel” is critical. It is my understanding that the only mission that is truly effective and God-honouring is that which is all about the good news of Jesus Christ. Our noble efforts to meet the physical needs of those suffering in the world are only noble when the gospel is at the heart of such efforts.
And so, we will seek to do all that we can by God’s grace to make these connections with the world and invest our lives in doing so. This our Lord desires of his people and we as the church will do all this for his glory alone. The question is this, Will you offer yourself up to the task?