Pastor Terry Tatum
There are only 4.6 billion people with Internet access around the world and yet the question, “why am I here?,” has been searched on the web more than 5 billion times. How is that?
To me, that means a lot of people are asking the same question over and over. It’s the same question we’re looking at in our current sermon series, which is based on the book The Purpose Driven Life by Pastor Rick Warren.
Simply put, we are all here to serve God. You probably already knew that, right? In some way, shape or form, we are here for God’s purpose or purposes for our lives. The Bible tells us “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10).
That means that God didn’t just create us. He created us for a purpose (or purposes) which He “prepared in advance for us.”
God created you, not to just sit back and watch the show, but for a specific part in the greatest story ever told.
Over the past few weeks we’ve learned the Bible often speaks of these purposes in our lives as “callings,” and we have looked at some of them over the last several weeks. We have learned that we are Called to Be Loved, Called to Belong, Called to Become and Called to Bless. Today we are going to look at the fifth purpose, that we are Called to Be Sent. Or as Rick Warren says, we were “Made for a Mission.”
Jesus said “… As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (John 20:21)
The word mission comes from a Latin word that means “sending.” Make no mistake about it, we have been made for a mission.
One of my favorite parts of the Bible makes our mission clear. Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18b-20).
This statement is so important it has been recorded five different times in Scripture. The key word in that passage is GO.
Go and make disciples.
The Apostle Paul understood this when he said in Acts 20, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:24)
Finishing his “task” is the same as my task and your task to “Go and make disciples” by telling the Good News of Jesus Christ.
John Wesley used to tell his ministers, “You have nothing to do but save souls.” We are all ministers of the Gospel, which means, literally, that we have nothing to do but save souls! Don’t get scared or intimidated by that. We all have a specific role to play in making sure everyone comes to Christ. Your role will uniquely fit your own talents and abilities.
Why are we here? We are here to serve God and complete the mission he called us to. We are Called to Be Sent. YOU were made for a mission! Here are three things we must do to fulfill our mission to bring others to Christ…
Sharing the Good News doesn’t come easy to most of us. As a matter of fact, most people don’t want to do it at all. I hear people tell me all the time, “That’s someone else’s gift.”
I disagree. We are here to fulfill God’s mission for our lives and Jesus flat out tells us to go and make disciples. We need to pray that we’ll overcome our resistance and start sharing our faith. We need to ask God for his help in sharing the greatest news of all time.
The best way to do that is by capturing the heart of God. “[God] does not want anyone to be lost, but he wants all people to change their hearts and lives.” (2 Peter 3:9b) The first way we must pray in order to fulfill our mission to bring others to Christ is to pray for ourselves.
You see, for us Christians we already understand that God saved us, but do you really understand how? It’s because someone took the time to share the Good News with us. It may have been a Sunday school teacher, a pastor, a friend, a parent or grandparent, or someone else. We are called to go live out that example and share the good news with others.
You may remember this verse for Romans; “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13).
Isn’t that great news? But how can people call on the name of the Lord if they’ve never heard the Good News? They can’t! Let me put it like this, roughly 60 million people will die in the world this year. What if 50 percent pass away and aren’t saved, is that acceptable? What if only 10 percent (6 million people) passed away and aren’t saved? Is that acceptable?
Let me break it down even further, if 6 million people pass away this year who haven’t heard the gospel that’s more than 16,000 per day. That’s unacceptable! We must pray for believers to say yes and accept their life’s mission.
Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:37-38).
Part of our calling is to pray for God to send workers to reach everyone with the Good News (even if it’s us). Every living creature deserves to hear and respond to the gospel.
Finally we must pray for fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation. The Bible tells us that one day every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. This is God’s plan for the world: “Exactly as I planned, it will happen. Following my blueprints, it will take shape. This is the plan, planned for the whole earth, and this is the hand that will do it, reaching into every nation.” (Isaiah 14:24, 26)
Through prayer we partner with God to help his plan become reality!
I hate to break it to you but the truth is, I’m not telling you to give money to missions or to the church … God is.
Scripture puts it this way: “We must support believers who go on trips like this so that we can work together with them in spreading the truth.” (3 John 8)
Can that be more clear?
We are to give in response to what we have received. Jesus said, “Freely you have received, so freely give.” (Matthew 10:8)
Many of you know that a minimum of 10 percent of all money given to our church is given away. We support dozens of mission projects and missionaries in several different countries and in our own community.
Did you know that, right now, there are roughly 3,000 tribes or people groups (several thousand in each tribe) in the world today that have never heard the Gospel?
We realize that many of you can’t physically go and participate in many of the service opportunities we have here at Lynn Haven UMC, or maybe you just aren’t in the stage of life where you can go. My challenge to each of you is to prayerfully consider how much you can give so that we can send other Christians to do what you cannot do at this time.
You and I may not be able to go everywhere but we can go somewhere. And God has given us a clear plan of action to follow. Jesus said, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
It starts right here in Bay County. In Luke 8 we’re told about Jesus healing a man who was tormented with demons. After he had been set free, the man wanted to travel with Jesus but the Lord said to him, “Go back home and tell people how much God has done for you.” So that man went all over town telling how much Jesus had done for him. (Luke 8:39).
Our mission begins here, in our “Jerusalem,” with our family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Live a godly, peaceful life in front of them. Share the love of Christ through your actions. When the time is right, tell them what Christ has done for you.
Even though I have made this sound easy, I know it isn’t. Sometimes the people we are closest to are the hardest to share with. A missionary friend of mine once told me “the hardest people to share the Gospel with are people who think they have already heard it.” Let that sink in for a second. Many people think they know about Jesus, but they don’t know him like you do. Commit to help them by showing your love to them, day in and day out.
Beyond “Jerusalem,” our mission extends to “Judea and Samaria.” If our Jerusalem was Bay County, think of our neighboring areas as Judea and Samaria: Port Saint Joe, Destin, Washington County, Wewahitchka, etc. But “Judea and Samaria” doesn’t just mean different towns and communities, it means people who are different from us, people who don’t look, act, or believe like us. It means everyone.
This may not be the most comfortable thing for a lot of us, but it’s okay. God didn’t call us to be comfortable, he called us to be compassionate…to everyone.
Finally, we are sent “to the ends of the earth.” These are Jesus’ final words in Mark’s gospel: “Go everywhere in the world and tell the Good News to everyone.” (Mark 16:15)
It’s appropriate for us to give so others can go, but that doesn’t take us off the hook. We must go!
Where are you being called to go?
For help discovering where God is calling you to be sent, text the word SENT to 850.265.5231 or visit our Missions page.