I have been praying for our church to be driven like the Apostle Paul. To this end I am preaching a two-part sermon on Redeemer's mission and vision. I don't know what you think about missions and visions, for me they represent a purpose statement with a dream about the effect of living out such a purpose.
I also think mission and vision statements should be directly connected to the commission King Jesus gave us through the Apostles before ascending to the right hand of His Father, where He now rules. There are two biblical passages that drive me, the leadership of Redeemer, and hopefully a good number of the church family.
The first passage comes just as Jesus is about to ascend in to heaven after his triumphant resurrection from the dead. He spent well over a month preparing His followers for this moment. He had previously promised to send the Holy Spirit to empower them for service, so mixed with a certain level of anxiety concerning His impending departure had to be great anticipation regarding what life would look like after the resurrection and under the direction of King Jesus from His Father's side. What instruction would Jesus give His soon to be supernaturally empowered disciples? What would He call us to do?
Matthew 28: 18 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.”
Just awesome. He sends us on our way making disciples. Truly a Great commission. Please note that he doesn't send us in our own power but by His authority and promised presence. The Apostle Paul, who wasn't present at the moment of the commission, clearly got the message first hand from one or more of the other Apostles because his life was driven by the discipleship mandate given by Jesus. Approximately 20 years after Jesus uttered the words of the Great Commission, the Apostle Paul summed up His earthly ministry and toil in Colossians by saying-
Colossians 1:28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.
Do you see the connection between these verses?
The maturing of God's people is the driving motivation behind Paul's toilsome ministry efforts. He describes Himself as "struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me". Again, just awesome.
Ultimately the purpose for each believer growing in Christ, indeed becoming "complete" or "mature" is to bring glory to God. There is no greater endeavor- to glorify God is to enjoy Him. As we mature in Christ and help others to do the same, we bring God glory. The best part- He empowers us. It's His work. All the glory is very much His.
So, my prayer for you reading this, is to be driven just as Paul was. Life's way too short to live any other way.