Living On (A) Mission
In our Identity series, we’ve highlighted mutliple times how the grand narrative of Scripture details God creating a new people to live with a new purpose as they participate in the development of a new, heavenly place to enjoy God for all eternity. We could say that there’s a King, building a kingdom, involving His Kingdom-Citizens. We’ve adapted this grand-narrative into the vision statement of Bay Cities Fellowship by claiming our vision surrounds creating celestial cities which live in contagious community.
To have any shot of experiencing our vision, we must mobilize on mission. This expansive, holistic vision needs marching orders. We must have a specific, tangible way to transform Tampa Bay. Consequently, our mission is simple:
We Exist to Reach Every Street with the Good News of Jesus Christ.
To unpack the content of this mission, will address our method, our map, and our manner for the mission. Before we address these, we need to briefly answer the following question: Where does this mission come from?
Since we believe that the Bible has one, grand storyline, the fulfillment of this story is not only intriguing but also extremely important. Since the plot involves a King, building His kingdom with His citizens, let’s quickly look at the nature of this Kingdom in its current form:
John Piper (Let the Nations Be Glad, p. 28) demonstrates that:
- Currently, there is no geographic center for [this Kingdom] (John 4:20-24), because Jesus is now the center of the Kingdom (John 2:19; Heb. 9:25-26).
- Currently, there is no [Kingdom] political regime because Christ’s kingdom is not constructed in this world yet (John 18:36).
- Currently, [the Kingdom fights] no earthly battles with chariots and horses or bombs and bullets, but spiritual ones with the word and the Sprit (Eph. 6:12-18; 2 Cor. 10:3- 5).
Consequently, the current expansion of the God’s Kingdom revolves around the name and fame of Jesus carried throughout all the nations. As a result, the good news of Jesus Christ, which has the power to save (Romans 1:16), can and will create new citizens of the Kingdom. When we embrace this mission, we participate in the prayer of Jesus by seeing creation experience life “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
Now, in light of possessing this brief synopsis, let’s first look at the method for our mission.
Our Intentional Method Of Reaching Every Street
Jesus concludes His earthly ministry with paradigmatic teaching that furthers the mission of God to bring salvation to all nations through the offspring of Eve. Matthew 28:18-20 states 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Jesus instructs that through the means of identification (baptism) and instruction (teaching), God’s mission would be fulfilled.
Based on His acquired authority, Jesus leaves His followers with the command to make disciples. Becoming a disciple is an identity issue. Hence, through our baptisms, we identify as a follower of Jesus. We find (v. 18) that this baptism is done “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” suggesting the identity of the “Lordship of the Godhead.” As a result our new identity in God, we publicly identify with God.
So, for those who’ve externally identified with Jesus as a demonstration of your internal identity, how are you doing on this mission? This mission, to make disciples, is at the core of our Christianity. Our very existence relates to the expansion of God’s kingdom through the extension of the gospel.
The gospel of the kingdom in our conversion begins a life-long journey of transformation. Hence, not only are we told about the identity change but also we are informed about the accompanying instruction for true disciples.
Jesus commands them to teach disciples “to observe all that I have commanded you.” The breadth of this teaching reveals the depth of discipleship intended. If God was going to have a people who walked in His ways, then they better know the expectations set forth in His Word.
To experience the depth of relationship that God intends for us along with fulfilling God’s expectation for His disciples, we must take time for:
- Intimate conversations with God
- Taking time to listen and to speak with God.
- Regular conversations with people where we live, work, and play
- Taking time to ask thoughtful questions and then listen
- Fervently pray for the Spirit to lead
- Set alarms on your phone/apps to pray for the Spirit to work in people’s lives and in yours.
Outside of this regular activity, most likely, we will not faithfully engage in mission. Our method for the mission involves activity the breeds identification and encourages instruction. Now, let’s take a look at our Map for the mission.
Our Strategic Map For Reaching Every Street
The paradigm for our map comes from the book of Acts. Acts serves to present how God’s mission to create a people for himself is fulfilled through obedient followers teaching all that Jesus has commanded to the ends of the world. Particularly, Jesus instructs His followers in their ambassadorial roles in Acts 1:6-8
6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Jesus instruction comes off a rather reasonable request from His followers: When will restore the Kingdom? His response to this request is fantastic. Jesus tells them first, “don’t worry about it.” Secondly, Jesus expands upon the teaching form Matthew 28 by adding a map to their method of witnessing.
Notice how Jesus identifies that this map must:
- Begin Locally. Their witnessing was to begin right where they lived: in Jerusalem. Even though their commission included the uttermost parts of the earth, the gospel saturation Jesus had in mind began right where they were. Then, notice the expansion.
- Expands Regionally and then Nationally. After Jerusalem, their gospel expansion focus regionally and then nationally. They are told to go in all Judea and Samaria. Once again, this expansion demonstrates natural permeation. As each follower of Jesus understands their role in the mission of God, they embrace the streets right around them. However, as promised this mission culminates in global expansion.
- Culminate Globally. The intended goal of God’s mission is to the end of the earth. We began how there’s a King, building a kingdom, involving His Kingdom-Citizens. Look at how these verses demonstrates the expansion of God’s kingdom as seen through His kingdom glory:
- 1 Chronicles 29:11 Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all
- Isaiah 40:5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
- Revelation 21:22-23 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.
Our hope and inspiration for this mission comes from the promises and presence of God. If we, by faith, believing fully that He will save our souls then we can fully anticipate the fulfillment of these promises. Here’s some amazing news for us: we get to participate in the expansion of God’s kingdom, one conversation, one act of love, one street at a time.
We take this strategic map seriously. Matter of fact, we are prayerfully dreaming that over the next 10 years, we would reach 500 streets. When you start to add up the amount of streets within this 5-mile radius, the number of streets soars to over 6,000 and the population nears 160,000. Consider your calling and our request to reach these streets with the good news of Jesus.
As important as our method and map are, finally, we must understand our manner for the mission.
Our Heavenly Manner For The Mission
Paul lays out the manner for our mission in 2 Corinthians 5:
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.
Since we are new creations, Paul identifies us as ambassadors: a diplomatic official of the highest rank, sent by one sovereign to another as its resident representative. We are heavenly-resident representatives where we live, work, and play. Our lives ought to represent all the riches that God has to offer His followers.
How can we live in such a manner to display our heavenly-residency?
Know Your Identity
In 2 Corinthians, Paul states how we’ve received an identity change. We are a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. More expansively, in Ephesians 2, Paul describes Christians as having been “dead in [their] trespasses and sins…following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air…carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”
However, through Jesus, we received a new identity:
“God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:4-10).
Represent Your Calling
You are to be whom God has made you to be where you live, work, and play.
2 Corinthians 5:20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.
As we just saw from Ephesians 2, we were dead and now we are created new. Our newness leads Paul to calling us “God’s workmanship”—Created by God and Created for God. In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul further unveils what being God’s workmanship looks like. Paul calls us ambassadors, as we’ve already noted, but noticed what this calling is for “God making his appeal through us.”
Consider the weightiness of this: You are the instrument God us to show reconciliation to others. Your calling in this life is to represent to others what God has done through reconciling you to Him.
The Method, Map, and Manner For A Mission Possible
What seems impossible with us is possible with God. He can move mountains. His glory will cover the earth like water of the seas. We get to participate in work that He is already doing. That’s why we say here at Bay Cities Fellowship:
We Exist to Reach Every Street with the Good News of Jesus Christ.