The heartbeat of Cities Church is the glory of Jesus Christ. We are a people — and we want to be a people — who seriously and gladly live like Jesus is who he says he is. We believe he is real, and that he changes everything, and therefore, we want to do what he says. And in Matthew 28 he tells us to make disciples of all nations, and so we want to do that.
Over the past weeks we’ve talked about that: about our vision as a church and the essentials that form our identity. Disciples are worshipers of Jesus, servants like Jesus, and missionaries with Jesus — and so we really care about worshiping him, about serving one another, and about seeking the good of the Cities. And the central, organizing strategy for how this gets worked out is in Community Groups.
Last week, Pastor Joe rolled out our vision for children and families. And this week, I want to take another step to talk about our distinctives as a church. These distinctives are kind of like personality pieces of our church. They’re the things we’re intentional about that are most likely to be peculiar to our church. There are five things we’ve identified:
- Neighborhood Focus & Relational Networks;
- Cultural Hopefulness;
- Pervasive Mission;
- Team Leadership;
- Church Planting.
And we won’t go through all of these, but today I want to say more about Pervasive Mission. What do we mean by “pervasive mission”?
What Is Pervasive Mission?
The slogan we’ve used to explain pervasive mission goes like this:
The setting of mission is everywhere; and the scope of mission is all of you.
So the pervasive part of “Pervasive Mission” gets into the where and what of mission — and I’ll say more about that in a minute. But first, let me back up and explain the mission part. What is that?
Well, the first thing to say is that there is a mission — which means, there is a God who has a purpose for this world and he has done something really really good.
God’s purpose for the world goes back the first book of the Bible, the Book of Genesis, where we read about God creating humanity. He created man and woman in his image and likeness to reflect his glory and worth (Gen. 1:26). That was the point.
As humans, we find our glory in the fact that we reflect God’s glory. Our significance and meaning comes from him.
And as humans, we find our gladness in the sufficiency of God’s glory. Nothing else can satisfy our souls like him.
So, at the beginning of creation, there is the triune God, and then there is Adam and Eve, who enjoy this amazing relationship with him, full of glory and gladness. And then he tells them to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth — which means that they take this good thing they have and they multiply it, which would fill the entire earth with humans, in the image and likeness of God, who reflect his majesty and saturate the world with glory and gladness.
But, you know how it goes. Adam and Eve rebelled against God. They didn’t trust him, and sin entered the world. Humanity was separated from God, and therefore fell from the glory and gladness they were created to enjoy. And this left a big hole, you might say, in our souls. And so the search began, and continues to this day. Humans, people like you and me, have two great cravings:
one, we want to have significance. We want our lives to matter.
And then two, we want to be happy. Everybody wants to be happy, to find joy.
Which means, every human is, you and me, all of us — we are glory chasers and pleasure seekers.
God’s purpose was that we find our glory and gladness in him, but we’ve chased every path out there under our nose, which has just led us further and further away from him. And this is not good.
But God has done something really really good.
In the fullness of time, and in fulfillment of ancient prophecy, around 4BC in the Jewish town of Bethlehem, Jesus was born. Jesus, as the Bible tells, and as Jesus showed us, is the Son of God himself who became a human like us to save us from our sins. When we had ran from God, and couldn’t find our way back to him, God came to us.
Jesus came to die for us. He suffered in our place, taking upon himself the punishment and shame that we deserve for our sins. And after he died, on the third day, he was raised from the dead, defeating the consequence of sin for which we were destined.
He has sent his Spirit, who, when we hear this good news, opens our eyes to believe. We, by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus, are united to him and brought back into fellowship with God. We are restored into a relationship of glory and gladness. And just like God told Adam and Eve to take this good thing they have and multiply it, Jesus has told us, take this good thing you have and multiply it. Tell this good news. Make disciples of all nations, filling the entire earth with those who reflect God’s majesty, and saturate the world with glory and gladness only found in him.
That’s the mission part of “Pervasive Mission.” God has a purpose for the world and he has done something really really good. And the “pervasive” part is simply us saying that this reality matters everywhere.
As far as setting, there’s isn’t an inch on this planet where this good news is not relevant.
Our commission to make disciples applies wherever we find ourselves. It’s just for one night a week, or an hour service on Sunday morning, but our entire lives are the playing field of mission. In one sense, if you are a Christian, there is no sideline.
But also, as far as scope, we believe that the entire world will be covered with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea, and that includes, fundamentally, our entire selves. We want all of who we are to be overcome by the gospel. Jesus didn’t die to save just a little bit of us, he saves all of us, and so we want all of us to live under his lordship.
Which is where we can repent. Truth is, and the reason why we have to focus here, is that we’re constantly holding back from him. We’re constantly trying to white-knuckle certain aspects of our life to keep for ourselves. And for that we should repent. So, please take a minute of silent confession, to repent from those areas of your life that you have the hardest time surrendering to Jesus. What is it most often that you find yourself trying to hold back from Jesus? Let’s take that to him now in confession. . . .