In our focus on “Mission” it would be easy to start to think of “Mission” as a list of separate instructions that will occur in chronological order in the life of a follower of Jesus. We might look at “Mission” as a to-do list.
Are we making disciples? Check.
Are they from diverse backgrounds? Check.
Are they immersed in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Check.
Then we come to the last one: Are they being taught to obey Jesus?
On the one hand, there is a certain progression to the instruction to “make disciples.” We call diverse people groups to follow Jesus. We immerse them in the good news so that conversion into the new life of Jesus becomes a possibility. Thus, they are empowered to obey. We know that, apart from the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we would not have the capacity to obey the things that Christ commands.
On the other hand, the progression is not that simple, and this last piece of the commission proves it. Even though we ultimately need the Holy Spirit to help us perfectly obey Christ’s commands followers of Jesus at all stages of their spiritual journey are still taught to observe Jesus’s commands.
Maybe an analogy is helpful. Every one of the “rules” of our household applies to every child in our household, but they are not all equally followed by every member of the house, nor do we expect them to be. Judah, who is only a year old, is being taught to observe the rules of the house, but we don’t expect that he’ll be able to obey them the same way as our 10-year olds. He’s actually quite terrible at the command to not eat food in the family room, or at not screaming to get his way, or at cleaning up after himself. In fact, Judah does the opposite and leaves a trail of destruction wherever he goes.
Each of our children has a different capacity to obey the commands of the household. That doesn’t mean we’re off the hook to teach them to observe all of the commands. From the moment they are brought into our house, they are learning. Slowly learning at times, but learning nevertheless.
It works the same with followers of Jesus. Our mission is to invite them to follow and, along the way, teach them to observe the commands of Jesus. Part of that teaching will be instruction, but much of it will be observation. New followers watch experienced followers to see how they are living out Christ’s commands.
We’ve seen this every Sunday during our series on First John. John is clear: the more closely we follow Jesus, the more likely we will be to follow his commands.
That’s the last part of “Mission” at Restore. It’s living out the commands of Christ in full view of our friends, neighbors, co-workers, and acquaintances as we call them to follow Jesus and ultimately, to do the same. Not because we’ve arrived, or because we’re perfect–but because we know someone who is.
That’s the message of the good news that we are called to share. That’s “Mission”.