Living in the Mission of God

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus help us to hear your mission for us. Help each of us to be effective delivers of your gospel to a world that desperately needs to hear of your love and mercy in the world. Help us to be bold and brave to proclaim your gospel to a suffering world. Amen

Today’s gospel passage is what we will focus on today. Jesus has been traveling from town to town teaching in the synagogues and bringing the message of healing and hope to the world. As he travels people begin to flock to him with their sick and suffering, He begins to heal the sick and bring restoration wherever He goes. Jesus is unlike any other teacher or great rabbi. He sees all people, not just the important, influential, or wealthy that could help him and provide some kind of service for him. The world seeks only to know those who are important and impressive. The world seeks to find people who can help promote their agenda or focus in the world. 

Jesus rather sees everyone and has a heart for everyone. Jesus spends time teaching and debating with the intellectuals at the synagogue. He meets them in the parsing of words and semantics of the law. Jesus expounds the scriptures and seeks to show the love of God for His people in the learning of the law. He sees their heart and longs for them to comprehend the fullness of the scriptures. 

Jesus spends time with those who manage his everyday practical needs like food and where he will sleep, and has compassion on them. He is shown having compassion for the women who serve him and care for his practical needs. In this culture it was expected that women would serve the men without notice or thankfulness. Jesus sees the broken, the outcast laying at the doors that no one wants to be near. Jesus sees the hoards of people following him and longing for healing. To be sick would have meant hopelessness as there were few medical options. 

Jesus had eyes to see people as made in the image of God. He knew that each person he passed, each person he talked with, each person he bumped up against had worth in God’s eyes. 

The scripture says that when Jesus saw the crowds he had compassion for the people as they were harassed and helpless. The greek word for compassion literally means to have a gut reaction towards someone. It means that Jesus’ heart broke for these people in such a way as to literally make his stomach churned up in deep concern and love. 

His compassion was a feeling of action,a feeling of moving towards other people. If we are on the way with Jesus we should take a close look at how Jesus handles himself in this passage and seek to live our lives in a similar way. Jesus says that they were harassed and helpless which literally means ‘torn and thrown down’ which continues the metaphor of sheep unprotected from predators, or even suffering from unscrupulous shepherds (cf. Zech. 11:16). 

The ordinary people of Israel are ‘lost sheep’ (10:6; 15:24) awaiting the Messianic shepherd. Jesus knew that more people were needed to share in the mission of the gospel and bring the kingdom to Earth. Jesus’ heart is for all people despite socio-economic status, culture, or race. He loves and longs for the people of Israel as well as us Gentiles today. 

Jesus’ response to the need of the people is to realize that He needs laborers for the harvest. One person can not possibly meet the needs of so many people. However when we take the enormity of the task of sharing Jesus with others and we share the workload then things become light. We often say this phrase in our house, “Many hands make work light.” In our house doing a “load” of laundry typically means washing three loads of clothes. If I try to fold them myself it will take me 30 minutes. 

However when I call all the kids to help we can be done with clothes put away in proper places in about 5 minutes. Large tasks can quickly become accomplished when we all work together. The economy of the kingdom of God is just this; that when we all do what God has called us to then we get to see the kingdom come. Jesus began commissioning the disciples to go out and share the gospel, heal the sick, and teach those who will listen. Jesus knew ministry needed to extend beyond himself into the lives of others. 

Each and every one of us is placed upon this earth to live out a mission. If you have breath on this side of the cross you can have a purpose filled life. The Lord has made each and every human life and has made them in the image of God. He longs for you and I and the guy down the road, and everyone to fall in love with him so that he might give you your mission. 

Jesus sees the hurting people and comes up with a plan to help them with you and I get to be a part of the restoration story. When we fall in love with Jesus and seek out his ways and conform our life to His then powerful things can happen. We can get to see healings, hardened hearts softened, and people turn to the living God. Living your life with a mission can radically change how you move through your days. 

Do you look forward to rising? Do you know what you are supposed to be doing with your day? Do you end the day with a sense that you followed God, served others, or were involved in some kingdom work for the day? Each and every day of our lives can be filled with purpose, mission, and intentionality. 

In our province in the Anglican Church of North America I have the privilege of meeting and praying with other ordained women throughout our country and Canada. Just the other week I had the great privilege to be in a zoom call and meet a 74 year old woman who served in a youth mission organization in which she was awaiting her next post to share the gospel with today’s youth. She was originally from China and has served in Taiwan, Mongolia, and America, and as I listened to her I was overcome with the sense of being the presence of someone who knew their mission. 

She was passionate about sharing Jesus because her life was so greatly impacted by coming into a relationship with Jesus. She wanted others to know the loving compassionate Jesus who would not abandon them but would rather lead them and guide them. 

Jesus reaches out and engages with all that come his way. He does not discern from a worldly sense who is worthy or not. Jesus does not look over people and decide they aren’t worth his time. Jesus instead looks at each and every person with softness and love and a desire to see them come into a fuller sense of his grace and mercy. 

We are a people who are often harassed and helpless. We are living in a time with such intense division that our country probably has not seen this since the civil war. The division of the pandemic and all the issues that surround it. Do you wear a mask or not? Should you gather with friends or family? Why can’t we do life as normal? And the list goes on and on. So much of an opportunity for division and discord. We are harassed people. 

Then we have the issue of systemic racism in our country. Do black lives matter? Do police lives matter? The outcry of so many people around the world, not just our country is being heard. Something needs to change. If we are not careful and do not look to the scriptures to find our answers and solution then we will become a people who are harassed and helpless.  

The Bible has so very much to say about justice, humanity, and God’s way. Then the last issue of our day is the next presidential election. Our country is raging with economic hardship, fear, discord, and choosing our next president is inevitably going to cause more division amongst people. Without a sense of vision and mission are we a harassed and helpless people? 

The Lord longs for his people to be unified and at peace with each other. When we have a mission of following Jesus and being His ambassador in the world then our views and ways in which we speak must come in alignment with God’s ways. We can not hold tightly to any position unless it is rooted in the word of God. How we speak online, in person, or the midst of our family and friends must be bent towards Jesus and what we find in His word. In order to inform ourselves appropriately we need to give ourselves to study before we speak. 

Over the past three and a half months I have been deeply grieving personally from a serious complication in my miscarriage which took two months to rectifly. I have been grieving for our country due to the deep and profound divisions and evil displayed in the actions of so many. I know that I need to be quiet and learn. I needed to learn about pandemics, I need to learn about systemic racism, and I need to learn about how one could possibly vote as a Christian in the fall. 

If we are a professed Christian then how we move through this life and what we think matters to God and matters to our witness in the world. We are not our own but rather the sons and daughters of the most high God. 

Our personal missions are meant to be a part of the great mission to reach the world with the loving message of hope, redemption, and restoration. Do we have to do this perfectly? Absolutely not!! 

But we are called to try, stumble, get back up, and try again. We are supposed to change, to be challenged in our thinking, and submit our ideas to the living God and to His word. Fr. Chris and I were watching a show on Netflix called Shtisel, and it is telling a story of an orthodox religious Jewish family. The father of the family is a Rabbi and what stood out to us was how much time he spent reading the Old Testament. He was shown coming home in the afternoon from teaching his students and studying, then studying late into the evening after the family meal.  

The children were shown studying the Torah over and over again, with no electronics just games and books. If we are to know the word of God or to know the way to go then we must read the word every day, perhaps even multiple times a day. 

Friends of ours live in an apartment as a family of five and they have an Ipod plugged into the wall playing the scriptures continually all day. In the backdrop of their common everyday life is the voice of a man reading the Word of God. This way they live and breath the word of God as they go about their day. 

In my life due to the nature of having six children that I care for the whole day and at all times I have to break up every single project or task into small bite size pieces. Depending on how fast you read you could give ten minutes in the morning to reading the bible. Five minutes around lunch time, and fifteen minutes in the evening before you go to bed. In this amount of time you could cover large portions of the Bible with only small amounts of focused time. In many fast paced families this could become a doable thing because when you have the narrative of the scriptures in your mind then you begin to become formed by them. The lens at which you view the world is to be the lens of biblical scripture. But if we do not read or listen to the scriptures then we can not know the deep wealth of information given to us by God the Father. 

The Lord longs for you and I to be conformed to His word and not to be conformed to the world. The Lord longs to love you and set your mind alright so that you do not live as a harassed and helpless sheep. And he longs to shape you so that you can help another sheep find the Great Shepherd. All of our revelations of God that align with the Holy Scriptures are meant for the edification of His people. 

Our mission in this life is to help others find the love, mercy, and grace of Jesus, and to be changed in the process as well. The scripture from the gospel today says that we are to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and cast out demons. Jesus gives us power to carry out our mission in the world. Jesus calls us to be a part of godly kingdom work. We do not need to do all of the work alone but rather in fellowship with one another serving side by side to see the kingdom come. 

What has God called you to during this time? I know we are still in the midst of a Pandemic but how does God want you to reach others with the kingdom message? Are there people you work with who need to hear the message of hope found in Jesus? Are there family members that you know who need to hear the message of grace and love? How does God want to use your life to shine into the world a message of hope and deep profound love? I promise you that if you ask God what he wants you to be doing, that he will answer you and give you good, holy work to be done. 

So my prayer for all of you listening is that God would fill you with the joy and peace of His mission for your life. My prayer this week is that you might hear from God anew about the work that He has for you in the world. And that you might be strengthened and equipped to do the work of sharing the gospel with a broken and fallen world. The world needs your love, your compassion, and your gifts to bring about healing and wholeness in the world. To God be the glory now and forever. Amen

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