Each Monday I try to maintain a series on this blog called "Digging Deeper." The purpose of these posts will be to "dig deeper" into the text that I preached the previous Sunday. It is almost always the case that there is more that could be said on every text that I preach at Riverview, and sometimes time constraints don't allow me to say everything that could be said about a particular text we are studying together. Invariably, some things get left on the cutting room floor. For this reason I thought it might be helpful to pick up some of those scraps on Monday and try to learn from them.
In the first book of the Bible, Genesis 12.1-3 kicks off the story of a rescue mission that is initiated by God himself. Through Abraham and his descendants, God promised to send One who would repair the breech created by man's willful sin against God and thereby bless "all the families of the earth." God's rescue mission would be an all-encompassing, world-wide mission. God would send his Son into the world to live a perfect life, die a perfect death, and then defeat death through his resurrection.
And then, in the last book of the Bible, Revelation 7.9-10 shows us a future time which has not yet come to pass, in which people from "every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages" are "standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, 'Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!'" Clearly, God's world-wide rescue mission is destined for success.
Although the Bible tells us that God's world-wide rescue mission is indeed destined to be successful, it is not yet complete. We have not yet reached the Revelation 7 reality of people from every corner of the earth worshipping the Lamb because there are people of the earth who are still yet unreached. In his wisdom, God has chosen people to be the vehicle by which this blessing to the nations and all the families of the earth would be spread. God doesn't just snap his fingers and cause all people of the world to come to him for salvation. He could, but he doesn't. Instead, he uses his people to bring the blessing of Christ to the nations. A tremendous blessing has been give to the nations, and God calls each one of us to be his ambassadors and to bring that good news to all the families of the earth.
The question is, what are you doing to be a part of God's world-wide rescue mission?
John Piper has famously said, "There are only three kinds of Christians: those who send, those who go, and those who are disobedient." God has called you to be either a goer or a sender - or both.
Those Who Send
At Riverview, we value the work of international missions and missionaries - people who have dedicated their lives to going to other lands to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to all the families of the earth so that they might hear and be blessed. So we partner with several missions organizations and missionaries to do this work. Just last week, Bible translators Steve and Carol Jean Gallagher reported that they recently celebrated the five year anniversary of the translation of the scriptures into the Bariai language of the people of Papua New Guinea. Before their translation work, God's word did not exist in their language. As recently as last week, Steve and Carol Jean ran out of Bibles to give to people who requested them. God has a plan to bless the Bariai people, and it is our privilege to partner with Steve and Carol Jean to bring this blessing to them. Our part in God's blessing of the nations has been realized by sending people - from our own church - to the nations to declare the good news of Jesus Christ. In fact, Riverview has been privileged to send out several missionaries from our doors overseas, even to places where Christ has never been named.
Those Who Go
But the work of God is not limited to international missions. There are many here in our own nation who do not know God, who are still at odds with him, and who need to be blessed through the gospel. Every eight weeks a team of faithful people from Riverview travel to the Dakota County Jail to minister to the inmates there. The gospel is declared faithfully and clearly, as our own people go to be ambassadors of Jesus even in our own community. To be one who goes, you don't necessarily need to go overseas. You simply need to go across the street.
This is the call of every follower of Jesus: to send others to the nations by equipping and resourcing them for the task ahead, and to go into our own communities - our own families, even - to preach the good news of the gospel. God has a desire to bless the people living in the deepest, darkest jungles where Christ has never been named, and he also wants to bless the people in your social sphere, living in 21st century modern America. And he has called you to bring his blessing to the nations, across your street, into your community, into your workplace, into your school, and into your family. This is what Christians do. They act as agents of God right where they are, and by extension through sending others in their stead.
Those Who Are Disobedient
This is God's mission, but he has called us to be a part of it. To not participate is to be disobedient. Your job is to figure out how you will be obedient to partner with God in his world-wide rescue mission. Maybe you can't go overseas, but you can send others with your resources. Or maybe you can't go overseas, but you can go across the street.
Which Kind Are You?
As we come upon the Christmas season, we remember the most significant part of God's rescue mission: the sending of his Son into the world to save sinners. As you reflect on that marvelous miracle, reflect also on how God is calling you to be a part of what he is doing in the world.