Just before Jesus ascended into heaven, He gave the church its orders, or its mission, in Matthew 28:19:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”
In an organizational sense, a mission defines the business of the organization. Apple is in the technology business, McDonalds is in the food business, and the church is in the disciple-making business.
An organization’s vision is a picture of its preferred future. It is an image of how things would look if the business were carried out correctly. If you are trying to lose weight, you could alter a picture of yourself to be the vision of realizing your goals. Jesus gave the church its vision in Acts 1:8, meaning that if we carried out our business of making disciples effectively, then we would experience this:
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
We are to make disciples, and in doing so, the whole world should encounter Him and know about His great love.
“Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth,” is Jesus’ way of drawing concentric circles around our lives; we shall be witnesses to him at home, in our outlying communities, outside our communities, and everywhere. A church’s business is non-negotiable, as our mission and vision are given to us by Jesus Himself. We are to make disciples, and in doing so, the whole world should encounter Him and know about His great love.
Considering the mission and vision that Jesus gave His church, the Rock’s specific mission is: Save, Equip, Send, and our Vision is: Pervasive Hope. Coming to church on Sunday is not an end in itself. The point of the church is to be involved in the life of God, allowing Him to transform us, believing in and sharing the power of the Gospel. Maybe God is calling some of us to Africa or beyond, but our primary mission field is right in front of us: our friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, classmates, etc. We can share God’s love with everyone we know, simply praying for them and comforting them in the same way Jesus did.
Some people think that they must clean themselves up before coming to God, the way dishes must be rinsed before being put in the dishwasher, but God doesn’t work that way. Look at how Jesus called Matthew (Levi), a tax collector, who by his very profession was a hated and notoriously sinful man in his community:
After these things He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he left all, rose up, and followed Him. Luke 5:27-28
God doesn’t need us to “clean up our act” before we decide to follow Him. Levi was sitting in his tax office when Jesus called, and he left everything behind in that moment to follow. God is the one who does the transformative work in our lives; we are equipped and sent simultaneously. He can change our attitudes toward life, our vision, patience and kindness, and that way that we love, give, serve, and forgive. All the while He is impacting us, we are called to be His witnesses to others, that they may see His work in our lives.
The next line in Luke of the passage shows that Levi was eager to share Jesus with everyone he knew:
Then Levi gave Him a great feast in his own house. And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them. Luke 5:29
Whether you are a new believer or a seasoned disciple, it is vital that you share God’s love with your friends. Pray for them! Tell them about God! Jesus modeled these things in a simple way for us, and we can begin sharing His goodness from the moment we meet Him.
And their scribes and the Pharisees complained against His disciples, saying, “Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus answered and said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Luke 5:30-32
The religious snobs of the day were critical of the disciples for associating with sinners. But it is always easy to find fault in someone. Are we religious snobs, judging other for their sins? It is much more difficult and dedicated to love anyway and overlook the fault. There is not one of us who no longer needs Jesus.
We must be about Jesus’ business, calling sinners to repentance. But Jesus never did this with criticism. He always had a loving heart.
Are you tuned into the mission and vision of the church? It’s time for all of us to listen, follow God and do what He says! If we are all doing what we should be doing as Christians, accomplishing Jesus’ mission for His church, then we can aspire to our vision of bringing pervasive hope to the world, one heart at a time.