Seeking, saving, serving. Have you heard those words before? Let me ask a more important question: Do the words: “seeking, saving, serving” ring with meaning and a sense of purpose in your ears, or, do these words seem worn out and in need of being shelved for something fresh and new?
There is a church tradition, which says, that after John’s return from exile on the island of Patmos, when John was an old man in Ephesus, he had to be carried to the church in the arms of his disciples. At these meetings, he was accustomed to say no more than, “Little children, love one another!” After a time, the disciples wearied at always hearing the same words, asked, “Master, why do you always say this?” “It is the Lord’s command,” John replied. “And if this alone be done, it is enough!”
When I was a student at Harding, I worked one summer as a counselor at a Christian Camp in Searcy, Arkansas. I had a cabin of middle schoolers and I remember one particular Bible class on how we must love one another and be kind to one another. I was so pleased with how they had engaged in the class sharing experiences and seeming to get it. One of the boys leading the final prayer asked God’s help for us to all show our faith by being loving and kind to one another. Well, right after class the cabin had a 30 minute rest period and I went to pick up the mail. While I was away a fight broke out among this very group of loving, kind boys. I heard the yelling and scuffle as I returned with the mail. I walked in the door and asked them: What did we just study and pray about? There was a lot of finger pointing and blame throwing that followed. I remember thinking, “How long and how much before it takes?” My point is this: there are some things that we have to constantly work on.
When Israel left Egypt, how long before they finally gave up on other gods and idols and obeyed God’s number one command to have no other gods? When did they finally seek first His kingdom and righteousness? Why did it take so long and so much for it to become theirs? How long before it takes?
What about our mission? Seeking, saving, serving.
- Seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness first in hope. 2. Receiving, obeying and sharing the Saving gospel of Jesus Christ through faith. 3. Serving the saved and also the lost in Christian love.
While these three intertwine and overlap, they also build on one another: a seeking hope, a saving faith, a serving love.
Think about these three for a minute. How real and important and useful do they seem to you?
I remember in the 90’s there were these hidden three dimensional art pieces that were a fad. You could stare at a bunch of what looked like random images on a print and your eyes would eventually change focus and a three D world would appear on the page. Does anyone know what I’m talking about? I remember a particularly big one that at first looked like an aquarium with a flat page of numbers and letters, but as I stared at it, an entire 3D world came into view that was amazing! Some people could stare at it forever and never see it, others could pick up on it almost immediately, but most who looked at them had to stare and wait until the focus would come and the beautiful 3 D world would appear.
I see our mission statement like that for us. We have to contemplate the scriptures and the vision of God within them until our eyes are opened to the amazing world they describe in Christ. The pay off is more than worth it! But this requires patience and willingness to reflect and listen to God’s word and spend time in prayer about His mission for us and the fruit He causes us to bear when it becomes our very own and we treasure His authority and righteousness, His gracious, saving calling, and His loving works within us and through us.
This mission has one goal. What is it? As a church and as individuals: To be like Jesus Christ, the seeking, saving, servant who is the Son of the living God.
This mission clarifies what we mean by saying that we are to be like Jesus Christ. We are not Jewish. We are not all men. We are not living in the first century. We are not in the land of Israel. We do not speak Aramaic. Some of us are way over 30. We do not live under the law of Moses. In fact, there are a myriad of things about Jesus that we are not at all “like.”
So how can we “be like Jesus”? What does that mean? Well, Jesus tells us: Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and “learn from me,” for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls. Jesus told his disciples that a student is not above his teacher, and that s student fully trained will be “like his teacher.” That’s it! That’s where our mission becomes so practical! First, We learn from Jesus to seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness. Jesus promises that everything we need will be supplied as we do this. This is our initial mission. Second, Jesus gave us the great commission to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that He commanded us, and He promised to be with us to the very end. Here we see the saving mission Jesus has given us. Third, Jesus commanded his disciples to love one another as He has loved us. This new commandment is given as Jesus served His disciples by washing their feet at the final Passover meal before Jesus went to the cross. In this we see our serving mission.
When it comes to God’s mission for the church and this congregation, studying and preaching on it are one thing, fully embracing and implementing it into the fabric of our behaviors is another. Some of us will capture it quickly and it will begin shaping your behaviors. Some of us will considering it, but it may take a while for us to fully appreciate it and put it to work. Some of us may be confused about it and struggle, wondering what it is about this that is so important. And, to be honest, some of us may become tired of hearing about it and begin wondering when we will move on.
Perhaps we need to consider the story of John’s wearisome repeated words: “Little children, love one another.” For we who are seeking God as king and seeking His righteousness, these are our sovereign King’s words and they reveal His righteous ways. For we who are saved and sharing the saving gospel of Christ, these words remind us that a major part of what draws the lost to Christ is witnessing our love for one another as His saved children. For we who are serving with the love of Christ we are directed to aim that service toward each other and do good to all, especially the household of faith.
As we take our mission to heart it becomes a lens through which to apply God’s word so that we become more and more like Christ in the process.