While we’re finished in this building we’re in no way finished with the ministry, call and witness God has graciously given us. In fact, I’d say we’re finally getting started. My prayer is we’ll grow into a church filled with Christ’s vibrant life through the Spirit, a genuinely warm and loving fellowship, and a church that experiences a significant aspect of Christ’s vibrant life through an outward and consistent witness.
The pathway toward this kind of church is to move on from a maintenance ministry into a mission ministry.
Maintenance-focused ministry is mainly characterized by seeking God’s help in navigating through the ups and downs of regular life.
Mission-focused ministry is mainly characterized by seeking God’s power through the Spirit to proclaim the glorious realities of His new society centered in the sinless life, sacrificial death, and bodily resurrection of HIs one and unique Son, Jesus Christ.
It’s not as if our Lord has little or no interest in shepherding us through the struggles we face in this life. However, I don’t think that can be the central focus of our walk with the Lord or the mission of New City Fellowship of Sacramento.
This brings us to our passage where I’d like to give a brief background on the disciple’s questions concerning the kingdom and then give one point on how we realize the blessings of the kingdom through an ongoing mission-focused Christian life.
Following his resurrection, our Lord Jesus spent about a month and a half with the disciples proving to them he was indeed alive in a flesh and bone body and talking to them about the kingdom.
The disciples hoped that this was the time Christ would reestablish Israel’s kingdom as it was lived during the first part of Solomon’s rule described in 1st Kings 4.
That golden age of Solomon’s rule was characterized by:
Abundant peace and prosperity. (e.g. his daily provisions included over 10,000 lbs of fine flour and the total provision could feed between 15 and 30 thousand people)
A strong defense providing for absolute safety from potential threats and ensure they dominated the region.
A strong leader who made them proud.
A tangible sense of God’s blessing conveyed a feeling of safety, satisfaction, and contentment where every man sat under his own vine and own fig tree.
Like almost all of us, they tied their happiness, and satisfying sense of well-being to living in their own country, under their own rule, with abundant prosperity and without any hint of foreign domination or threat.
What they asked wasn’t far-fetched nor ignorant. It revealed an understanding that God’s redemptive work wasn’t confined to the state of your eternal soul. Rather, it’s a redemption that will in fact bring about an entirely new and blessed society featuring abundant peace and prosperity, no danger from enemies and a king who in whom we can pour our hope, worship and joyful loyalty.
Basically, they wanted the reality spoken of in
Psalm 67:4 and 1st Kings 4.
May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth. Selah
During Solomon's lifetime Judah and Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, lived in safety, each man under his own vine and fig tree.
Thanks to the living God that’s what we have in Christ, though we won’t realize it completely until He returns to fully set up His eternal new society.
In many ways, we’re similar to them. There are aspects of our lives we genuinely believe provide the key to our satisfied sense of well-being.
What set of circumstances are you hoping the Lord will restore or create for your well-being?
Whether it’s getting married or having a better marriage, an issue at work, or just a desire for better work, better relationships with those close to us, physical, emotional, and mental healing,
right, wise, just, and sensible gov’t. Or even a struggle with a particular sin
All of these are a part of God’s creative order. It’s one of the reasons we pray about them. Ultimately we believe the Lord will set these issues right in Christ’s new society. However, we cannot decide to walk away nor should we fail to worship Him while we wait for Him to move in our circumstances.
God is still good right now.
Since He’s good right now we’re willing to accept the answer our Lord gave to the disciples along with embracing the call he placed on their lives.
Acts 1:8 (NIV) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
Power is the supernatural ability given by the Spirit to faithfully declare Christ’s message of redemption.
The Spirit’s power is absolutely necessary since He is the one who gives new life to those who hear the message of Christ’s full redemption.
The Spirit’s power is absolutely necessary to keep us from relying on our own techniques, experience, and plans.
The Spirit’s power is absolutely necessary for the desire to promote the message of Christ’s full redemption to our community.
As a congregation let’s consistently pray for the Spirit’s power for our witness.
A witness in this context refers to someone who tells what she saw and heard as if she was testifying in a court of law. Beyond that, it is one whose willing to die for her witness.
Our witness concerns the sinless life, sacrificial death, and bodily resurrection of our redeemer king Jesus Christ. It’s His work that provides for the forgiveness of sin, new, vibrant spiritual life, and entrance into His glorious new society.
So we boldly go knowing that in Christ, our King we have the blessings and benefits we need for the sense of satisfied well-being we need.
We boldly go in His name and by the power of His Spirit from this place but not His presence.
We boldly go, leaving behind a few good memories but with the expectation of making new joyous ones.
We boldly go from maintenance to mission in Jesus’ Name.