The next scene in the story of God
People love stories. We love movies that have good character development, conflict, and intriguing plots that cause us to get so wrapped up in the story that we are affected by it. So many movies set new trends, revive old ones, and often create a worldview for the viewer.
Many of the great movies have common themes of peace, a break of peace, and a hero who restores peace. And of course, we have all seen movies that we didn’t understand or we missed a key point and the movie had no effect on us.
Now wait, you're probably thinking this blog is about the Christian story and how Jesus is our hero! Yes, Jesus is the hero of our story, but this blog is not really about that.
This blog is actually about how our lack of understanding the story has affected our lives and the mission of the church, more than we know it. Take for example some of the New Testament saints.
The Bible doesn’t let us simplify missions down to just a command from Jesus.
Why was being on mission and church planting so important to Paul? One could say because Jesus told His Apostles and the church to be on mission! (Matt 28, Acts 1)
Amen! We do mission work locally and globally because of the Great Commission! Obedience to Jesus is enough reason to do anything in my book!
Yet, the Bible doesn’t let us simplify missions down to just a command from Jesus. The word of God shows us that the plans and mission of God was from eternity (Eph. 2:10, Rev .13:8). Eternity, that’s before the New Testament’s Great Commission command was given. The very nature of God is missional.
You see When we look at the Apostles and other Christians in the New Testament, we see something that helped fuel a passion to go and preach a gospel that eventually got most of them killed.
We see something that helped fuel the motivation to tear down the walls of racism between the Jews and Gentiles (Eph 2:14).
Seems to me there is more than just a “Jesus said so” attitude going on in the lives of the New Testament saints.
Why was being on mission so important to Paul and others?
They understood God's story and found themselves in it.
They understood they had a major role in the story.
They were part of the plot.
They were the next scene.
Now you see what this blog is all about!
I love movies that have flashbacks. How about we do some now.
The Apostles and Paul had no New Testament to draw from. They were the New Testament, yet they knew the Old Testament Scriptures well. They were Jews, they knew their history with God well.
Gen 12:1-3 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
God’s people would often refer back to the story (Old Testament) many times to settle disputes and to encourage themselves to be on mission. Look at these examples from James and Paul.
When they finished, James spoke up. “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me. 14 Simon has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles. 15 The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written:
16 “‘After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent.
Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it,
17 that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who bear my name,
says the Lord, who does these things’—
18 things known from long ago.
Acts 13:32 -33
32 “We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm:“‘You are my son;
today I have become your father.’
47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us:“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’
Still not buying it? How about an example from Jesus.
Jesus Christ loved the story of God. On the road to Emmaus, Jesus opens the eyes of two disciples to the climax of the story of God, Himself!
Luke 24:25-27 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
Jesus goes back to the beginning to show that His death and resurrection was always part of the story.
What’s the story? I like to look at the whole story in sections. Creation, Fall, Redemptive history, and New Creation.
The Old Testament and the New Testament is the story of redemptive history.
God remained true to His will to have a people to call His own
Through those people the Messiah would come to save them from sin and death
Through the Spirit indwelling the people of God (the church), the world is still being blessed.
The early Christians knew the story, and saw themselves in the story. They were part of God’s plan of reconciliation.
2 Cor 5:20 Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ: Be reconciled to God.
You see, knowing the story and your role in the story is so important! Do you see yourself and your church body in the story of God as the next scene?
What happens when you do see yourself as part of the story.
Faith that God will open more eyes to His glory because that’s a promise from God
Hab 2:14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
Faith that God will provide all you need for His will to come to fruition where you work, play, and live.
Acts 17:26-27 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us
Boldness in a post Christian world:
2 Cor 3:12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold
True unity built on Jesus because our story is leading to a bunch of different people surrounding One Throne:
Rev 7:9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,
Deep Compassion, because we know how this story ends.
Rev 20:15 And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
What happens when you do see yourself as part of the story? A life on mission.
Look at what happens when you don’t understand the story or see yourself as part of the story.
Fear in a post Christian world
Church becomes about you
Lack of passion for evangelism
What happens to the Christian that doesn’t understand or see themselves in the story of God?
They rewrite the story.
Unfortunately remakes are typically, if not always, very very bad. The original is always better.
Katherine Hankey wrote this in a poem that later became a hymn,
“Tell me the story slowly,
That I may take it in—
That wonderful redemption,
God’s remedy for sin;
Tell me the old, old story,
Of Jesus and His love.”
Let's tell the old old story with our lives. I’ll grab the popcorn.
Is the idea of missions only a New Testament command or do we see missions in the Old Testament?
Do you see yourself or your church as the next scenes of the story of God?
What would happen in your life if you looked at the Great Commission as more than just a command, but the very nature of who God is?
Is being on mission just a work, or an attribute of a Christian? Read Ephesians 2:1-10 for more insight.