BLOG: Praying for Distinction, Part 3



WRITTEN BY MELISSA H. STRAUTMAN, LMT

Praying for Distinction, Part 3
Getting Poked With The Mission-Stick
Companion blog to “When He Prays for His Church

Equipping the saints that God sets apart (makes holy) for the work of His ministry is always His target when He reveals His truth in scripture.  The whole reason He converses with us through His word is to complete His kingdom[1] through redemption.  He understands that this is going to be a really hard road for us,[2] but keeping our eye on the prize will help us sail joyously through; all the while bringing more glory to God.

It wasn’t but a very few years ago (I’m 47) that if I’d read the above paragraph I would have been totally lost.  I’d have asked all kinds of questions…

  1. Who qualifies as a “saint”?  Isn’t that a Catholic thing?
  2. What is God’s “ministry”?  Why would He have to have one?  Where does that happen?
  3. How do I know if I’m interpreting scripture right so I can say that I know what “the truth” is?
  4. What on earth is a “complete” kingdom?
  5. What is “the prize”?
  6. How do I bring “glory to God”?  Why would He need for me to do anything for Him?

I now can answer every one of those questions in simple, straightforward language that makes my soul nearly full-to-bursting.  Nope, I didn’t attend seminary college or take a yearlong sabbatical with Wayne Grudems Systematic Theology tucked under my arm.  I just sat in a church pew every Sunday for the last four years at a church with joy, holiness, truth, mission, and unity as focal points of its existence and instruction.

Please jump back and read Part 1 and Part 2 to catch up on joy, holiness, and truth or listen to the first thirty-four minutes of the sermon here: When He Prays for His Church

The 4th Distinguishing Mark of the Church: Mission

John 17:20-21
I do not ask for these (apostles) only, but also for those (us) who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the WORLD (unbelievers) may believe that you have sent me.

Do you ever wonder why God left us here after He saved us?  Why not just whisk us away to heaven if that’s where we are headed anyway?

We are saved and left here for a purpose and a mission.  The church exists for gathering together those who believe and will soon believe.  They need to hear and then know.  We are supposed to be the salt and light.  If you’ve been sitting in church for 20 years and really feel like it is all for you and your personal, spiritual, or emotional comfort, you have missed the purpose.  You are sitting in that pew to be shaped for God’s purpose; the “mission” of helping others know Christ.

Yes, we gather each week to increase our joy for sure, but we also gather to be a living testimony that says we have been set apart, unto holiness, useful for the purposes of God.  We gather to focus on the sanctifying and enabling power of truth in our midst.  Jesus prays that every time we gather and ingest the truth we will be equipped TO GO! Go where?  Maybe it will be to work tomorrow or in a foreign country where you share Christ with others.  The place isn’t the point.  The truth, and your readiness to share it is.

“Anything that you can do in your Christian life can be done better in heaven, except the work of mission: it can’t be done anywhere but here.”  – Pastor Steve Wilson

Learn More Truth, Share More Divine Joy

Are you engaged in the reason and purpose for which you have been left here on earth or are you just grateful that you were saved yourself; promising you’ll be a pretty little Christian picture walkin’ n’ talkin’ the lingo so as not to ‘hurt your witness’?  Cause ya’ know – God is desperate for a better witness (sarcasm a’ drippin’).  Whoops, did I just say Christ wasn’t enough?  What I meant to say is God doesn’t need more Christ(s) setting examples because the first one was perfect.  He needs more servant Christians obeying His call to mission.  I won’t apologize if this statement made you mad because declaring yourself a Christian has implications; of which I am certain this is one.  On the other hand, if you feel that niggling little bit of conviction growing in your conscience, GOOD!  I will boast in the Lord and the mission-stick He poked you with!

The 5th Distinguishing Mark of the Church: Unity

Unity among the saints is what ties it all together for us.  Unity is an other-worldly, divine togetherness that makes all believers perfectly one.  It is not about ‘sameness’.  It is not about music, or our organizational ties, or worship style.  Unity is togetherness found in doing God’s mission together around the distinguishing marks of the church.

God knows that our differences will get in the way from time to time but He wants us to settle on the fact that there is more that unites us than divides us.  It is the kind of unity that wants to see the world saved by the grace of God.  It’s the very heart beat of what it means to be a Christian; committed to the redemption of the lost.

Our Inheritance

These five distinguishing marks of the church were highlighted by Christ Himself in His prayer to His Father in John 17.  He volunteered to bleed and die for us (the church) to have these specific and particular things given to us in what was effectively His last will and testament.

With that said, can you say that you are holding those inherited gifts in your hand, understand their value with your mind, love them with your heart, and share them with your brothers and sisters?  Well, I suppose that might depend on how long you have been on the road to sanctification.[3] Our older, wiser saints seem so content and genuinely in possession of love and Christian wisdom.

As for me, I’d been on that road a long time, nearly half my life.  I was tired of not understanding all this puffed-up-feel-good-Christian-speak in churches and walking away with nothing to have expanded my mind, lifted my spirit, or connected me with others.  Each time I reached out in a church, group, study, etc., I just walked away with more unanswered questions.  The reason for that was because I was in an ineffectual gathering of people who had their own motives, not Christ’s.  They may have been saved by the grace of God, but they were not focused in on possessing and using the five gifts Jesus basically said we needed to survive here.  They may have been satisfied with the fake-it-til-you-make-it religion but I wasn’t.

Getting the most out of your inheritance…

If you are not sitting under Biblical instruction that blows your mind every week and/or fills you with exuberant Christ-like joy, then I fear your church may not be doing their job in helping you with your precious inheritance.  The truth that makes you holy, causes you to know a new kind of joy, presents you with obvious mission opportunities, and embraces unity can be the hardest thing you’ll ever love.


I hope you will subscribe to this blog and keep learning all God has for you through these lessons taught by Pastor Steve Wilson of Grace Community Church.

   


[1] Revealing our cosmic purpose for God (paragraph 5): Views from the Pew: Always Working

[2] The Way to Happiness – the hard road (paragraph 7): Views from the Pew: Are You Sure You Want Jesus’ Joy?

[3] Becoming more Christ like