Thursday, March 25, 2010

March Madness and Jesus' Mission

March Madness is my favorite sports event all year. I love how NCAA basketball is on television from the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep (well, for the most part anyway). I love the purity of those who are playing, as exhibited by Cornell University and Northern Iowa this year. I love how the tournament through filling out brackets gets my wife into interested, as well as creating an avenue for my friends and family to reconnect. I also love how exciting the games are with the buzzer beaters, strategies, competition, and amazing athletes. When thinking through this, I was brought to a point where the greatness of March Madness is parallel to the greatness of our faith.

Jesus’ Mission is All-day, Everyday. He says that we are to be in the world not of it, and he prays for our protection from the evil one, that we would be protected when faced with temptation, opposition, persecution, etc. While far too many of us have adapted to the world instead of transforming it (In our language, entertainment, attitude, reactions), we must remember that we no more belong to the world than Jesus himself does.

Another similarity is that Jesus’ Mission is Pure. We all need to be sanctified. Sanctified comes from the Greek word hagios, which means holy or different or separate with 2 meanings: To set apart for a special task and to equip with the qualities of mind and heart and character which are necessary for that task. Simply put, we need to trade the rubbish of the world for something better God has for us! Here is the irony of the world we live in: the world is the enemy of our purity, yet in Jesus’ prayer it is the object of a living purpose expressed in mission.

Jesus’ Mission is also All-Inclusive. The directive to proclaim Christ to others is to the calling of every believer. Many think to live on mission equals us going on a mission trip (to Nicaragua, Alabama, Dallas, Nicaragua, etc), but the reality is going is as central to Christianity as love is. It is part of his nature, and you cannot spell God without GO! It is not special for the pastors or those on mission trips – its for every Christ follower. Evangelizing, sharing Jesus with others is the call of everyone who calls themselves Christian. To take the pressure off we need to understand 2 things: Our job is to share Jesus with others, not save them and we cannot save anyone, only Jesus can do that.

The problem is that we tend to see ourselves as business people trying to earn a paycheck when Jesus sends us out as His representatives or His missionaries. Thus, we need to think like missionaries. This occurs by being constantly aware of the lostness around you; constantly prayerful of those outside of a relationship with Christ; constantly looking for opportunities to share Christ; and constantly living as a person in a relationship with Christ. God’s mission is fulfilled through you and me and everyone else who identifies with Him

The final parallel is that Jesus’ Mission is Exciting. Jesus told us, “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” The same mission Jesus came to earth to fulfill is the same we are to fulfill. We are to bear witness to God (and produce followers of God), just as Jesus has done. God equips you for His work – the Holy Spirit is constantly moving, working through and around you.

Recently, I had the opportunity to lead a person to Christ. It was exhilarating to listen to this man I had not seen in 9 months refer to our previous conversation where I shared Christ with him by saying when asked if he had thought about our conversation, “I think about it very much, many times.” Although I was not around to share with him and although no one had spoken to him about Jesus, the Holy Spirit was speaking to him “very much, many times!” There is nothing as exciting as leading a person to Christ and it is my hope we will all join in the excitement our Lord and Savior calls us to engage in!

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