Reaching into 2021

Tomorrow is a new year – the year of the Lord 2021. And I believe it will be a year when the Church sees some major changes as the Holy Spirit moves and reveals the next steps taking us back to the biblical model of the Church and church leadership. 

Many people who have never belonged to or attended a Church will find hope and comfort in joining the community of believers. They will be looking for somewhere to belong that brings them the peace and purpose they have not found elsewhere – especially during the uncertainty of the pandemic of 2020. They will not be believers but they are searching for community and connectedness. They want to belong.

As they join in the activities of the local assembly (fondly known as the church) they will feel loved, accepted, and forgiven. This will allow them to open their hearts to actually discover what it is that those who call themselves believers actually believe. In past decades this was the opposite way around. People would discover what the church believed and then join and belong. However, now the need for community surpasses the need to know the beliefs of the group. So, they now come to belong and in the process of being accepted discover what the local church believes.

So follow the train of thought here as we enter into 2021 and the major changes the Church in general will experience. People will join to experience hope belonging before they believe. However, belonging opens the door to believing. Once they believe and are born again and their heart has been touched by the Gospel of the Kingdom they can then be expected to adjust their life style and behave as a Christian, a disciple of Jesus. Careful, I didn’t say obey the rules and regulations or come under the rituals of the Church. As they walk with the Lord they will discover what the Lord wants them to change in the way they think, live, and relate. They will change behaviour and morals and ethics. They will adjust lifestyle and behaviours. Their perspective will be a kingdom perspective and no longer a worldly perspective. This will be a slow process and a journey of adjustment. However, belong becomes believe which then becomes behave.

As their behaviour changes they will become more and more like Jesus. He will mold them and “make them” as He promises to do. Of course, this assumes they are true disciples and thus following him. The faith journey is one of walking with Jesus through daily events in life and responding to Him as He guides and directs within those events and circumstances. Thus we become more and more like Him gradually changing behaviour, words, and actions as we become more like Him.

So we belong which enables us to come to faith and believe in Jesus Christ. As we change what we believe our behaviour changes and we behave more and more like Christ and less and less like the world. As we continue to follow Jesus as His disciple and we behave in accordance with the changes He is bringing about in our lives we become like Him. Then we can be a part of what He is doing and build the Kingdom and the Church with Him. 

Simple to understand not always simple to accomplish. But this is what we are called to daily throughout 2021 – Helping others to enter into the community of faith so that they can begin the journey by belonging with our help…

      • Belong
      • Believe
      • Behave
      • Become
      • Build

 

It Only Takes a Moment

Every day, we’re looking for meaning. You can see it in people’s eyes in the mall, in the products we buy and never use, in the books that crowd our shelves, in the clothes we purchase that never make us look like we dream. When we encounter the needs of the world, however, we realize we can be part of something more than an insatiable desire to consume. When we get over our pursuit of self, everything changes. The result is a feeling of being undone and this can happen in a moment. 

In each of our stories — somewhere in our journey with Jesus — there is a moment when all our priorities and concerns shift. For me it was my first trip overseas to the former Soviet Union many years ago. It was an experience of being ‘undone.’ Everything I believe came into question. Everything I had been taught was now being questioned. My safe and secure and comfortable Christian faith was beginning to be disassembled and, in fact, quickly torn down. 

In our individual ‘moment’ our identity begins to change. We sense a disparity between what its and what should be. We become dissatisfied with what we have even though we often don’t know what else to reach out for. This dissatisfaction is like a “divine discontent” that causes us to be willing to leave what is as we move towards what could be. And this discovery changes everything for us. It turns our lives upside down.

And, today, in the midst of COVID-19 people’s lives are being turned upside down. Not just in Tanzania, but also in Tacoma and Toronto. God it seems, is not only in the business of changing hearts in Budapest, but also in Boston. In reality this moment, this “turning things upside down” is more than a good idea. It is more than a new movement of the Holy Spirit. It is, quite possibly, the answer to life’s biggest question: What is the point of my life?

Most of us sense a nagging feeling when our souls are quiet and our minds are still. We know that something is wrong with the world and has been for a while. When this ‘moment’ happens, that feeling become uncomfortable and, at times, unbearable. We can no longer sit by and watch the world go to hell. We must engage, interact, and be part of the solution to the problems we sense. A part of the redemption. As a result we no longer ‘fit’ into the old world, the old way of doing things. We’ve seen too much, heard too much, lived to much, experienced too much. And we can’t go back to life as it was. To the ordinary. To our self-centered existence.

Make no mistake; this is hard. This ‘moment’ of awakening is not easy. Our culture is so individualistic and wired for success that we often miss the real point of life. We think it is about self-actualization, about being the best version of ourselves. It’s not. It’s about losing ourselves as we focus outward on the Kingdom and the lost, the least, and the last who need to hear about the King and His Kingdom. 

The journey of any true believer is one of unbecoming. “You must unlearn what you have learned,” Yoda reminds us. Anyone who isn’t willing to leave family and friends isn’t fit for the Kingdom of God, according to Jesus. We come to faith with a front, a mask, a self-assurance. As lawyers, politicians, secretaries, store clerks, teachers and writers, we come proud, as if we have something to offer. But we soon learn how little we have in and of ourselves. We must deny ourselves, pick up our crosses, and walk in the way of humility, which feels a lot like death. As it turns out, this is the only way to be useful to the world and have an influence in the world for the Kingdom. As the Borg in Star Trek Voyager teaches us, “you can be assimilated” into a new way of life. However, this means that your old way of life must be broken. 

We are in a season of ‘moments.’ Don’t let your ‘moment’ pass you by. Respond to the feeling – the dissatisfaction – with what is. Reach for what is yet to be. It’s right here. And let the process of tearing down happen so that the building up may begin.

Jeremiah speaks to this:

“See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”

We must allow this work to be accomplished in us first … tear down and uproot so that then God can plant and build. 

Covid-19 Reminds Me Of…

The reaction of believers to COVID-19 is often amazing. At other times it is something less than believable as conspiracy theories abound. Theories believed by and even spread by people who say they are believers. And now that a vaccine has begun to be distributed we have all the anti-vaccine people joining with the anti-mask people — again, including believers — to appose what is happening. So different in many ways from the early church’s reaction to a series of pandemics that hit the known world during the time of persecution of believers in the Roman Empire…

I am reminded of the witness of the early church in the Roman Empire. When two great waves of plagues bettered the city of Rome, tens of thousands of people were killed in the gruesome, widespread pandemics. The wealthy and able fled the cities, hoping to survive outside the crowded and dirty city centers. But the Christians? They stayed. There are records of this time, written both by pagan and Christian leaders, which note the Christian response. Eusebius, who was the bishop of Caesarea in 341 AD, recorded that during the plague, “All day long some of the Christians tended to the dying and to their burial, countless numbers with no one to care for them. Others gathered together from all parts of the city a multitude of those withered from famine and distributed bread to them all.”

After Eusebius’ death, Emperor Julian wrote a letter to a pagan priest, complaining that the “impious Galileans” were caring for the sick and dying to such an extent that it highlighted the government’s own inaction. He suggested that the pagan (and government affiliated) priests copy what the Christians were doing. Unsurprisingly, this was not very effective. The reason? The call to die to one’s self for the sake of another is unsustainable without the love and power of a real, eternal God.

Pray with me that the unleaded church will overflow with the same kind of love and practical concern in the face of today’s worldwide pandemic just as the Christians did in Rome so long ago. And may Jesus’ Name be made known because of it.

Philippians 1:9 states, “And it my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment” (ESV).

Several other translations read:

“My prayer for you is that you will overflow more and more with love for others and at the same time keep on growing in spiritual knowledge and insight.”

And may the Lord make your love to grow and overflow to each other and to everyone else, just as our love does towards you!”

It is a great time to be alive and together we need, as the Church, to help those effected by the pandemic bringing hope and the peace of God that passes all understanding to them through the Gospel of the Kingdom. If we do this simple but profound task then we simply will not have the time to follow or to focus on and become involved in any of the conspiracy theories that spread like wildfire and poison and which eventually remove the believers true focus – showing the love of God in practical ways. 

Remember, “God so loved that He gave…” and we are called to love in the same way that He first loved us. 

Kingdom Voices – Part Three

Most of the indigenous churches are not under any denomination. They are independent and small. Most of the pastors of those churches have only a little training or no training at all. Not even informal training. They just jump into the arena and start leading the church. So sometimes it looks a little out of control, humanly speaking. But I think the Holy Spirit is leading them. 

My observation is that God is going to use house churches, not the denominational churches. Most of the churches will be led by people — we would say lay leaders — who take the responsibility of leading these small churches. And that brings several challenges. Because what I believe is, no church is independent. I mean, one church is born out of the work of the believers from another church. I think in God’s Kingdom, every church is connected organically and spiritually. So, how do we best bring a structural expression of that association God has already created among these churches — a structure that would give them complete freedom to respond to the leading of the Holy Spirit without any control from the above? And at the same time, how do we have them come together and work together?

In Acts 20, Paul called together the elders from the city of Ephesus. There were house churches led by a team of elders, but they all came when Paul called them to come together. So though they were independent churches led by elders, Paul somehow connected them to each other — in a kind of hub. Eventually Timothy came and led that hub and gave them direction. But Paul created a kind of structure, a free structure, a hub model that took the gospel out in a concentric way. Paul got them to focus while he enabled them to develop. We can learn from this and do the same. 

Rev. Vasantharaj Albert

Vice-President of the Non-Denominational Association of Independent Churches (NAIC)

Just a thought to add to and interact with the above…

It could be that the elders were “elders of the city of Ephesus” and that they had oversight of the ‘Church in Ephesus.’ That these elders were not ‘in charge’ of individual house churches but were in oversight of all of the work of the Kingdom (and thus the church) in the city. That Ephesus was an apostolic center from which the gospel spread out into the surrounding provinces and regions. The churches were, to my understanding, led by regular believers who taught from the Scriptures and led the house church to which they belonged. The elders were in oversight of all of the house churches as ‘THE church in Ephesus’ and this eldership was most likely composed of members of the fivefold ministry – apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors (shepherds), and teachers. 

If you interpret Acts 20 as the Kingdom Voice quoted above did then each house church would be led by an “elder” which really is the old, traditional pattern we now have of the Church with each church being led by a pastor. Changing the words does not change the structure or give new life to an old wine skin. 

Each house church being led by a regular-type believer who has some leadership motivation (Romans 12:4-6) is my understanding of the biblical church. The ‘elders’ were in oversight of the Church in the city which would be comprised of hundreds if not thousands of small house church. 

This would make a lot more sense and incorporate the fivefold ministry into the life of the church (read: house churches in the city). 

Kingdom Voices – Part Two

There are folks who say, “Yeah, you know, this Kingdom stuff’s good. But when do we get people to the church?” Jesus established the church to get people to the Kingdom, not the other way around. The church is not the destination; the Kingdom is. And some folks in church as an institution struggle with this wider bandwidth of church expression because it doesn’t fit the categories that we’ve developed. We want to wrap it in biblical language and theological stuff, and we develop the classification of clergy versus laity and who can do what.

I’ll that it a step further and challenge our language. When we talk about planting a church, there’s no such thing. It’s the church, not a church. So when people tell me they feel called to plant a church, I generally say, “I doubt it,” you know, just to mess with them a little bit. Just to get their attention. Now, if you want to plant the church, I’m all over that. If you want to plant a church, that typically means you’re going out to plant a worship service. And a church grows up around it, and then you have a bunch of consumers again. 

Reggie McNeal                                                                                                                                                                    Missional Leadership Specialist, Leadership Network.

It seems to me that we are in a “Covid season” when God is shaking everything that He can shake so we will examine openly and honestly everything that we do and why we do it. Thus tossing out anything that is not biblical and definitely anything that is not encouraging effective soul winning and disciple-making.

The Scripture states: “So don’t turn a deaf ear to these gracious words … one last shaking, from top to bottom, stem to stern. The phrase ‘one last shaking” means a thorough house cleaning, getting rid of the historical and religious junk so that the unshakable essentials stand, clear and uncluttered” (Hebrews 12:25-27 The Message Version).

And, as the “Covid season” comes to an end – and it will – we will then not be able to return to what was. Church as it was will be finished. Business as usual will no longer work. And, in fact, the Church will be much smaller as God pulls together a powerful remnant and removes the goats from the sheep, cultural Christians from true believers, followers from true disciples. 

Kingdom Voices – Part One

A series of thought provoking short articles that I have recently come across. Although I may not agree with everything the authors state I found the articles caused me to do some deep thinking with a new perspective as I wrestled with what I read …

Meeting people at their point of need — that’s discipleship. That’s what I see as discipleship. Discipleship means reading the Bible, understanding the Scriptures, and living the scripture out alongside Jesus. It’s not, “Okay, so here are some of the things that I’ve learned from the Bible. Now let me go do it.” No. It’s, “How do I live my life with Jesus, in my context, in the power of the Holy Spirit?”

In India as a new Christian, you’re ostracized. As a new Christian, you face all kinds of persecution. As a new Christian, you have so much unlearning to do, and you can be misunderstood. So you accept these truths: I cannot do this by myself. I cannot go and talk to people in another caste. I cannot abstain suddenly from going to the temple. I cannot stay away from eating the temple food. How do I handle these situations? Who do I turn to? Jesus. He’s walking on the road, and I have to walk with Him, and when I do, He will bring these answers to my life. 

Somebody beautifully explained what following Jesus looks like. They said that the disciples, the ones that followed closer to Jesus, were the ones that had more dust on their feet because they were always running and trying to catch up. Their feet were dirtier and dustier because they had to keep up with the Master. So I think discipleship is in a way like that. You’re following your Master so closely because you want to live life with Him — in the journey that He’s taking you on, not on your journey.

So, it’s not just head knowledge. It’s not just compassionate acts of service. It’s not just a formula. No. It’s a way of life that is totally surrendered. I don’t know how else to say it. The way Paul says it is, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20 ESV). This is the life of a disciple. And that’s what we try to engage our new believers in, telling them, teaching them. “Yes, you come to conferences, you study God’s Word, you have to understand who Jesus is — His nature, His teachings, His principles, His idea of life.” In all of that, you learn, you understand, but the head knowledge has to translate to the heart. And even then, both the head and the heart have to completely surrender and live that crucified life. That’s discipleship for us. 

Becky Stanley

Director of Children’s Ministries, 

India Gospel League

Cleaning Out the Clutter

We are called, as disciples, to “go into al the world and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). This includes going and staying. “Staying” in that “all the world” includes family, friends, and neighbours. “Going” in that there are over 6,000 people groups that have not heard the name of Jesus and are not aware of the gospel of the Kingdom.

To think about “going” and “staying” in terms of winning the lost and discipleship we need to grapple with decisions about our priorities and our focus in life in general. Even with a sincere desire to be radically obedient, it is not always easy to make decisions about what matters most. 

The Great Commission is a clear word of instruction. 

Matthew 28:18-20  “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”

Jesus has told us frankly that obedience – and thus sharing the Gospel and fulfilling the Great Commission – is the result of our love for Him.

“If you love Me, you will obey Me” (John 14:15)

That God has a special concern for the lost is beyond debate. Even so, His special concern is not always our special concern, even as we are striving, in love, to be obedient!

Consider the priorities that inform our living and the decisions we make in daily life. Typically, those priorities are clearly reflected in our conversations and gatherings; our priorities are reflected by the way we use our time and money. To illustrate the struggle of determining priorities, imagine a group of believers in a regular, traditional church or even a house church. 

What occupies our attention? What are we most concerned about? What are the most frequent topics for discussion when we gather? What do churches care most about? What matters most to individual believers? What is the mission agenda of the church? Of the individuals believer? In other words, where do we place our focus?

Generally the conversation centers in and around the needs and the lives of the believers. Their current medical struggle. Their job. Their family members. Their current pressures and concerns. Their finances. Their upcoming vacations or business trips. At times, they might be concerned about issues the local church is facing. But those times are few unless you are in leadership and thus the issues are of “personal” importance to you.

Seldom will you hear believers talking about the non-believers they are building relationships with in the hope of, one day, sharing the gospel of the kingdom. Oh, they may mention the name of a person to pray for who is not saved but that is not the same as seeking prayer for your witness to that person and the relationship you are attempting to build with them. Unless led by a mission-minded leader you will seldom hear the conversation turn to those “people groups” who have yet to hear the gospel and won’t hear it unless someone is send – which means someone must go. 

So, our concerns are often not in line with the concerns of the Father nor the concerns of the Head of the Church, Jesus. 

Here is my point: We need to clear out the clutter of our own lives until the needs of the lost become and remain our primary focus. The lost need to hear, to understand, to believe the gospel, to be baptized, and then be gathered into house churches and discipled. Responding to the needs of the lost is our God-given task. As we obediently answer God’s command, nothing can be more important than the needs of the lost. So, we need to remove the “self” clutter and focus on the needs of the lost – especially the need to be born again.

The kingdom truth: The need for the lost to hear the good news always exceeds the needs of the believer and the local church. 

Words That Have Lost Their Meaning – Part Two

Another word that has lost its meaning is the word “missionary.” Missionary is not a Bible word, but it is a word that has come to define the response to Jesus’ command to go out with His message. A missionary or a missionary group is an individual, a family, or a team committed to proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom. It is often a word used to describe a person who proclaims the gospel to people who have never heard and people who have little chance of hearing. Often workers who share their faith are required to learn other languages and cross cultures; often, that is required even in our home countries due to the diversity of nationalities and languages now present in almost every nation.

In reality, the word should not be used. However, often it is used in reference to a leader in the Bible who is actually in the role and calling of an apostle. Paul and Barnabas being two examples. Words that could be used in place of the word ‘missionary’ could include “worker,” “sent out ones,” or “overseas workers.”

However, truth be known the real word to be used should be “disciple” or “follower” because all true believers are called to “go into all the world and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). Going  out to proclaim the gospel does not make you a missionary. Nor does it make you a “worker.” It simply means you are being an obedient follower or disciple of Jesus. Could we call them “sent out ones?” Yes! Because the church was always meant to be apostolic. The word apostle means “the sent one.” So, when apostles are part of the ministry team and the foundation of the local church, then the church, under the leadership of an apostle, becomes apostolic. The people come to understand the need to “go into all the world” and so become apostolic (sent out ones) in their nature, in their thinking, and in their actions.

The root idea of “mission” is the sending activity of God. In one sense, certainly, Jesus sends His followers to their families and friends and neighbours. In a deeper and true biblical sense, Jesus ultimately sends His followers to proclaim His grace throughout the entire world.. starting in Jerusalem, through Judea, on to Samaria, and then to all the people groups, especially in places where His grace has not yet been proclaimed. Scripture is clear in helping us to understand that, in this sense, every believer is a sent out one. The command to be on mission is a command common to every follower of Jesus. It is a command to be both local and global. 

The word “pastor” is another word that has lost its original meaning and almost any meaning in today’s world. The word ‘pastor’ appears once in the New Testament and it is in regard to the fivefold, trans-local ministry of Ephesians 4:11-12.

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…”

This ‘pastor’ travelled as did the other four of the fivefold ministry team. However, as soon as we hear that word today we do not think “trans-local” but local … the leader of a local church. This was never the plan in the early church as seen in the New Testament. It was also not the plan the Lord had when He stated He would build His Church. The local churches in the New Testament were all led by apostles … James as leader of Jerusalem is an example. The spiritual oversight of the local assembly was in the hands of a group of elders, not a solo pastor. The work was done by the saints as they were equipped by the fivefold ministers. So, there was no need for a local full-time, paid pastor nor a part-time bi-vocational pastor.

Let’s admit it… there are 59 “one another” versers in the New Testament and no one man or woman – no pastor – can fulfil all 59 of these commands for every person who is a member of the local assembly no matter how big or small the assembly is. So the five-fold pastor comes in to a local assembly and teaches the people how to care for “one another” and thus fulfill the 59 ‘one another’ commands. 

There are many other words that we use as believers that have lost their original meaning or all meaning … but these are the ones that really bother me personally and that, I believe, are preventing the Church from the needed changes that will take it in to an effective, fruitful, and productive future. 

Words That Have Lost Their Meaning – Part One

I recently spoke on a Saturday morning to a group of believers in Eastern Canada. Near the end of the morning of teaching I asked them if they were glad that they had come to church. Everyone said that they were glad to have invested the time. Of course, they did not come to Church; they are the church. They came to an assembly of believers in a building set aside for assemblies. We are the Church. God’s people are the Church.

It got me to thinking about how we use words that have really totally lost their original meaning and now refer to something other than what the word first referred to. And, that maybe it is time to, once again, redefine the words we frequently use as believers.

The Church is the called-out, baptized, gathered-together people of God. Church is defined by community-belonging, it acts on Jesus’ call to be people on mission, it will reproduce itself (which will result in both new believers and new communities of faith), it will finance itself, it will provide care and support for those who make up the church, and it will choose its own leaders and polity. The categories and activities highlighted in Acts 2 are a helpful guide: a church will be committed to worship (usually inside of homes), and missions which lead to a fulfilling of the Great Commission from across the street to the ends of the earth. The Church includes fellowship, education, equipping and strengthening the believers for ministry, and a lifestyle of discipleship which is an interchangeable term with evangelism. When did Jesus disciple His disciples and when did He evangelize them?

Because I work with house churches in a number of nations …A house church is typically a small body of ten to thirty believers who meet together in homes. Organization of house churches can vary significantly, but leadership is normally fluid and adaptable. When a house church grows to a certain size, it will typically divide into smaller groups (thus multiplying and planting another house church). House churches were the norm in New Testament times, and they are the norm in many settings today. 

The issue I see with house churches is that when a house church is birthed or joined by  a number of traditional Christians from mainline denominations they really expect the house church to simply being a smaller version of the traditional congregation that they recently left. Thus they expect all of the elements of the traditional church service including having a “pastor / teacher” who shares a teaching / sermon each time they meet. This is not a true biblical house church. 

With churches in general – both those that meet in larger buildings and those that meet in homes – I think we have a major problem. We seldom see the Church functioning as it should be. Most churches are not “equipping the saints for the work of the ministry” (Ephesians 4:12). They are teaching believers but it is simply more information to be remembered in the head and does not touch the heart. Thus there is just information and not life-transformation. Believer’s lives are not being changed. People are not being equipped for ministry – enabling them to better touch the hearts and lives of others who do not know the Lord. The ministry is not shared equally among the many but is the work of just a few – who are often seminary trained. And, in leadership, there is simply the ministry of the “pastor” and not the fivefold ministry – thus not the full ministry of the Lord who was an apostle, a prophet, an evangelist, a paster (Great Shepherd) and teacher. 

So, words like “Church” and “House Church” can mean so many different things depending on who is speaking and who is listening. I believe it is time to define the words that we are using. And, to define them biblically. Then to make the changes necessary to come into line with the true meaning of the word “Church” and other words that we use regularly. 

That would be a first good step to actually becoming all that the Lord wants us to be. 

More next time…

Remember Why Jesus Came

We are into the Christmas season and, as usual, we add a number of extra events to our already busy daily schedules. We shop for gifts, plan meals and get-togethers with loved one, and attend Christmas parties and Christmas concerts. This year there will be some changes to these festive events and activities due to COVID-19. However, we will still be busy and active nonetheless.

In the midst of the added events and activities let us not forget the reason for the celebration we call Christmas. You know the message: God so loved us that He wanted a personal relationship with each one of us. However, our sinful nature and our sinful actions separated us from Him. So, He became one of us – we call Him Jesus – and lived without sin. He died on the Cross of Calvary paying the penalty for our sins. Thus paying the debt we could not pay and making a way for us to have a close encounter with and relationship with God the Father. 

To enter into this relationship we must sense the conviction of the Spirit… convicting us of sin, righteousness  and judgment. We then respond with godly sorrow — sorry we offended a holy God — and you repent and ask for His forgiveness. When received you become a new creature in Christ and are given the gift of eternal life. Biblically the gift of eternal life is the supernatural ability to have a personal, intimate, love relationship with God the Father and Jesus whom He sent.

This was the focus of the first Christmas. Emmanuel — God with us! God bringing salvation and deliverance; forgiveness and freedom. This is what we are celebrating. But, it is more than that. Much more.

Jesus came to “seek and save the lost” (Luke19:10). God does not just call an individual. The Christian faith is more than you and Jesus and personal salvation. He called a people to Himself. He wants a people who will fellowship with Him. A priesthood of all believers who will minister to Him and for Him. And these people are called to fulfill the call that was upon Jesus’s life. We are to continue His purpose — to seek and save the lost. This is why Jesus commanded (and did not suggest) that we, the Church, “go into every nation and people group and share the Gospel of the Kingdom” (Matthew 28:18-19; Matthew 24:14). 

So Christmas is more than a celebration of the birth of the Christ Child. Christmas is more than God becoming man — deity taking on humanity — and living among us. Christmas is more than God loving us so much that He gave His Son to die for us. Christmas is a reminder that Jesus was born in Bethlehem because God came to “seek and save the lost.” And, that we must continue that task and tell others – all others – about the good news that “unto us a Child has been born and a Saviour given.”

And there are no shortage of opportunities and places to go. Yes, all the easy ones have been taken. But, there are still 6,5000 unreached people groups in the world. About 2 billion people in the world don’t have a Christian friend or any access to the saving knowledge of the gospel. So, we are called to live the mission and go to every place God gives us the privilege of going. And, this mission, of course, starts at home but extends much further as we “go into all the world.”

This is the fullness of the Christmas message that “a child has been born, a King has been given.” As members of the King’s kingdom we are called to “go” and expand the kingdom bringing His light into the darkness.