If you were at church on Sunday you may have the following picture stuck in your head: a grown man shoved his nose against the sidewall of the Aylen Junior High stage and kept it there for a good 15 seconds. Why are you having a hard time forgetting this image? Well, Joel Parker, this Sunday’s guest teacher, used that illustration from John 15 to make a point. That point was this: being on mission as a disciple of Jesus begins and ends with staying close to Jesus. What does this look like? Let’s check out three bible verses from Sunday to learn how our mission as a Christian comes first from our identity in Jesus Christ.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5)
Joel taught what Jesus told His disciples before He went to the cross: before we do anything, before we go anywhere, before we attempt obedience and before we promise faithfulness…Jesus invites us to “abide” in Him. Did you know that Jesus is inviting you into a relationship with Him where He is your life and where He produces fruitfulness in you? This is an incredible promise for a people like us who are quick to worship themselves, isn’t it? When it comes continuing Christ’s mission in the world, we need to start by remembering that our identity is not in our works or our words or even in our witness. Instead, Jesus reminds us that our identity begins and ends with Him. Period. Have you “abided” in Christ lately? When we do, we will have the right motivation for the mission we’re called to.
“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35)
If you’re often unsure about what “abiding” looks like, guess what? You’re not alone. So am I! Good thing the God-man Jesus Christ provided a perfect example for us in what this “abiding” looks like huh? In this passage from Mark we see that before Jesus went into Galilee to preach in the synagogues and cast out demons…He spent time with the Father. He woke up early. He went away from others. He prayed. Before Jesus addressed the responsibilities and needs of the day before Him He spent time with the Father…”going up” before “going out” and “submitting” before “serving”. Have you put aside the concerns of your day and the command of being a missionary to spend time with God lately? If we put our own plans and our own efforts before Christ’s invitation to abide in Him…we will end up idolizing good things like mission and community because the good things can never replace God. Yes we’re called to a mission, but we won’t know what that mission is unless we first abide by spending time with the Father, His Son, and the Holy Spirit.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20)
And now for the mission: GO, MAKE DISCIPLES, BAPTIZE, and TEACH. There it is. As followers of Jesus who have been given a new identity in Jesus we are to proclaim the name of Jesus Christ throughout the world and show the world what it looks like to worship Jesus as God. Here’s a question from this nugget to wrap up this recap: are you doing this? Are you living as this type of missionary in your neighborhood? Are you carrying out the Great Commission in your workplace? If the Father sent the Son to rescue and redeem the lost…WHICH WAS YOU…are you living a “sent” life that points others to Jesus? If you struggle with this, and I assure you that you do, because we all do, I pray that you would hear Christ’s invitation to you today: “abide in me”. Run to Jesus. Invite Him to change your heart. Ask Him to show you what it looks like to be a missionary in your world and trust that as you love and worship Him He will lead and guide you in the way you should go.
You are a missionary, but before you are a missionary, you are “In Christ Jesus”. Abide in Him today!