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The Revolutionary Mission

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Q What’s your take on why so many churches talk about the Great Commission and reaching our world, but so few are actually doing it?

If we’re going to fulfill the mission that Jesus gave us as the church, we must become revolutionaries.

The world is changing—exponentially. It’s moving further and further away from what it really needs: God, truth, forgiveness, purpose and hope. In a word, it needs redemption. But for the people in and of this world to find what they need, those who have it must wake them up to it. Therein lies the problem.

A world that is going through revolutionary changes can’t be reached, convinced or awakened by a church where everything remains the same. I’m not talking about the truth itself; truth never changes. I’m talking about the way the church engages the world with the truth. To wake up a world going through revolutionary changes requires that the church is revolutionary itself.

The Revolutionary Call

This sounds foreign to a lot of Christians and church leaders, but this is what God has called us to be and do. In fact, it should come naturally for genuine Christ followers because Jesus was a revolutionary.

He entered a world that was turned inward and focused on keeping God and His promises for the few. He started a revolution that turned God’s people outward to share God and His promises with the many. He entered a world that viewed power and prosperity as a means of being served. He started a revolution that viewed them as a means of serving others.

The early church followed in Jesus’ footsteps. It became a revolutionary force focused outward and bent on serving others (Acts 2:41-47).

Sadly, it wasn’t just the world that hated what God was doing. The majority of those who claimed to be “God’s people” in those days rejected the revolution of Jesus and the early church. They preferred keeping God and His promises to themselves. They chose to see God as being in the world to serve them rather than as having them in the world to serve Him and those He loved. As a result, they put Jesus on a cross and persecuted His church.

They did this because, without knowing it, over time, their traditions had replaced God and His truth (Matt. 15:1-3).

The Paralysis of Predictability

The same thing is going on today. Many of those who claim to be “Christ followers” have lost Jesus in the predictability of their practices. Though in most cases they don’t see it, they have turned inward and practice their faith to benefit an exclusive few. They fight to keep the church serving their interests and preferences rather than making sure that it is serving God’s purposes.

What the church today needs is what Jesus came to bring: a revolution. But it won’t come easy, and it won’t come without a price.

In both the Old and New Testaments, there were seasons when the majority of those who claimed allegiance to God and His truth had actually replaced Him with other things. This was clearly seen by the rejection of God’s prophets and ultimately Jesus Himself. They were rejected, not just by outsiders, but also by insiders. And, as Jesus promised, this happened to those seeking to genuinely follow Him in the early days of the church. It continues to happen today.

This happens because people, without realizing it, slowly begin to commit themselves to the forms of faith rather than the life-changing reality of faith. Though often subtler and less dramatic, it’s no different in its destructive consequence than it was with those who rejected Jesus while He was on earth. In 2 Timothy 3:1-5, Paul warns us about this danger and warns us to stay away from people who fall into this trap.

A Form of Godliness

The warning Paul gives is that the characteristics of our dark and destructive world will become representative of those who profess to be followers of Christ and part of His Church. They will have a “form of godliness” while “denying its power.”
While declaring allegiance to Him and His truth, they shut Him out of their lives. They make a commitment to …

their traditions over His truth (Matt. 15:1-3);
past experiences of Him over present experiences with Him (Phil. 3:12-14);
trying to defend what they have over trying to take new ground (Matt. 16:18);
living for duty rather than for love and desire (2 Cor. 5:14);
the church as a place rather than as God’s people following Christ (1 Cor. 3:10);
their church culture, structure and strategy over God’s mission (Matt. 28:19-20);
talking the talk rather than walking the walk (1 Cor. 4:20).

Sadly, this appears to have become the reality of our world today. Most of our churches aren’t creating a revolution of light and love because they’ve replaced Jesus with their routines. They have chosen the “form of godliness” over “its power.”

The Answer

Jesus gave the solution in Revelation 3:20, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me.”

If we want to wake up the world to the reality of Jesus, we need to be knowing and living out His reality in our lives and churches. The question is: Will we hear His knock and open the door?

If we want our churches to fulfill the mission Jesus gave us, we must be like Jesus—revolutionaries. If we are genuinely experiencing and following Him, we will be like Him. As His story makes clear, it won’t be easy and won’t come cheaply. But when our world experiences the revolution of love and hope He died to make possible, it will be worth it.