Yesterday, we looked at the difference between mission and truth, as shown in the story of Elisha and his servant attempting to revive the widow's son. The servant only tries once; the prophet again and again until he gets it. And the question we raised is this:
Do you see what you see or do you see what God sees?
This question, and this discussion, is fundamental to what we are doing as a church. Not as a local church, but as a global one - as a body of Christians with a message for the world. It is fundamental to the way we're doing outreach, to how we are evangelizing the world.
Here's what I mean: it's a little late, but let's take Easter as an example because it's a good one. When Easter starts to come around, most of our churches start talking about the importance of inviting others to the Easter service. Invite your friends, your family, your neighbors, your community. Go out and invite one person. (We put an emphasis on one because it seems doable to most everybody.)
And most church members will go out and invite someone to the Easter service. It's true. It works. And some of them will even come.
But here's the thing - are our people going out and inviting that one person to Easter because they have a mission...or because they have a truth?
A mission means the primary goal is to invite someone. It's to get someone to potentially come to the service and fill another seat. It's about getting the numbers, getting humans in the door. It's about believing in the church and its programs and pumping them up in our communities. Yes, you should totally come to my church for Easter - we have great music, a good sermon, snacks and coffee in the lobby, a fellowship meal afterward, friendly folks, and a casual dress code. You'll absolutely love Easter at my church. And we think that what's important is getting that one person to the Easter service. That's everything.
A truth, on the other hand, means that you can already see what happens as a result of the Easter service. You have your eyes on a life transformed. You have a vision for a soul redeemed. You are thinking about brokenness healed, blind who can see, lame who can walk. You're burning with a passion for this Jesus that someone you know could come and meet on Easter Sunday, if only you could get them in the pew.
The vision in truth is larger; it looks beyond what seems like the goal and burns in the soul. It doesn't see the task as the end game; it knows there's something larger at play.
Are your people inviting someone to the Easter service because they love the Easter service and the church and think it will be fun and cool and neat to have their friend/family/neighbor there with them? Then your people have a mission. They are servants. They'll try once and if it doesn't stick, they'll just move on. And probably never invite that person again.
Or are your people inviting someone to the Easter service because they love Jesus, believe in the power of the resurrection, preach the Good News, know how it can heal the broken and redeem the sinner and find the lost? Are they inviting others to the Easter service because they can already see how Jesus can radically transform someone's life for the better? Then your people have a truth. They are prophets. They'll keep going at it again and again and again until it works, and they'll invite that same person every year until they come.
It's a sad reality that most of our churches are churches on mission, not churches on truth. Most Christians today have lost that essential essence of this thing called truth, this burning passion for the lost, the absolute belief that Jesus saves and transforms the lives of sinners, and the vision to see it before it even happens. Most Christians today are working for the church, not for the Christ - for our programs and not for the Promise.
Imagine what would happen if that weren't the case. Imagine if more of us were prophets, not servants. Imagine if we ministered out of truth, not mission. Imagine...