Every home has a purpose. The purpose of God’s house is to empower God’s people for mission. Even Jesus left his home in heaven to go on mission. As followers of Jesus, we are also participants in his mission.
“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” John T. Shedd.The Jesus Mission
So what is the Jesus mission? We can sometimes focus on one part of Jesus’ mission, but his mission includes a number of different dimensions that are all important for “holistic” mission. The Lausanne committee for World Evangelisation describes mission as “The Whole Church taking the Whole gospel to the Whole world.” The last commands Jesus gave his disciples before he ascended into heaven, were a holistic commission for the whole church in which everyone believer is called to participate.A “Whole” Apple
An apple provides one memorable illustration of the holistic nature of Jesus’ commission. Every part of an apple is needed: the seed, the core, the body and the outer skin. In fact, the whole apple tree is needed for apple production including sap, trunk and leaves.
We each may prefer a different part of the apple. Some people like the skin and the body. One colleague of mine told me he likes the apple core! Others want their apple peeled, with the core cut out completely. Some only like the body of the apple chopped up into little pieces, or made into apple crumble.
However, the whole apple is important. Unfortunately, we can treat the bible the same way. We can chop it up into little bits and only focus on what we like—make disciples, or preach the gospel, or wait for the Holy Spirit. But we forget that many parts of the bible are stories that should be read in their entirety if we are to better understand the whole picture.The Whole Gospel
The last commands of Jesus are part of such a holistic story. They come from an historical narrative that describes the last forty days of Jesus on earth after he rose from the dead. There are five such accounts of this period in Jesus’ ministry—Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts. Each writer presents his eye-witness account in a different way, with different emphases, depending on their perspective and passion. They are like different parts of the whole apple. Each part is important, because together, they outline Jesus’ holistic mission.1. The Body of the Apple
Matthew, the tax collector, had a passion for teaching. That’s like the body of the apple. It’s spiritual food that’s good to eat. His gospel contains the longest accounts of Jesus’ teaching—for example the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7).
So he also remembers Jesus commanding his disciples “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.” Mt 28:18-19.
Making disciples and teaching is one important part of the Jesus mission.2. The Attractive Outer Skin
According to tradition, Mark was a very young man when he first saw Jesus alive again after the crucifixion. Possibly, like many younger men, he was a man of action who wanted things to happen immediately!
In his gospel, he even uses the word “immediately” 36 times. He seems impatient to get the job done. What he remembers of Jesus’ last commands is “Go into all, the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mk 16:15) - no training or waiting for the Holy Spirit.
Mark wants us to engage immediately with the world, by preaching the good news. Preaching good news is like the skin of the apple that first engages with the outside world. It needs to be attractive, it needs to persuade people to come and eat. It needs to communicate good news not bad news.
It is another important part of the Jesus mission.3. The Apple Seed
Luke wrote both the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts. The book of Acts is the story of the early church. It shows the way the disciples interpreted the last commands of Jesus. One of the most frequent words used in the book of Acts is “church”.
The disciples carried out the Jesus mission by planting churches. Church-planting is the most effective method of discipleship and evangelisation. It’s like the apple seed. Within one tiny seed, there is huge potential for multiplying, not just apples but whole apple trees.
CityLife’s missionary partners have planted more than 82 churches around the world since 2014, which brings the total number of churches planted by our mission’s partners to 571. The average size of a church is about 90 people. That makes over 50,000 people who have received Christ and are now being discipled in these new churches.
Watch the video on this web-page to hear the story of some of these churches in Myanmar https://www.citylife.church/world-impact/
Planting churches is another important part of the Jesus mission.4. The Sap of the Apple Tree
Luke begins the book of Acts with his own account of Jesus’ last days on earth. He based his gospel and Acts on many eye-witness accounts from people who had spent time with Jesus, and who saw Jesus alive before he ascended into heaven. As Luke was a doctor, what seems to have impressed him most is the power of the Holy Spirit, and God’s heart for the poor and oppressed. Earlier in his gospel, he recalls Jesus saying “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed….” (Lk 4:18). In the rest of the Gospel of Luke, he recounts stories of healings, miracles and the parables showing Jesus’ heart for the disadvantaged and lost, such as the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son. Thus when it comes to Luke’s account of Jesus’ last days on earth, he again emphasizes on the Holy Spirit. “Wait in Jerusalem until you have received power….”
That is the sap of the apple tree. It is the inner power that flows from God to his people so they can carry out the Jesus mission. Luke stresses that the power of the Holy Spirit is so that we can be witnesses in word and deed to the good news of Jesus Christ. He also emphasizes that we are called to be witnesses among all people.The Whole World
Mark tells us we are to preach the gospel in all the world (Mk 16:15), Matthew explains that we are to make disciples of every nation (Mt 28:19), and Luke lays out a strategic plan for doing so by beginning at Jerusalem but then continuing on to Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
World Impact is the ministry of CityLife Church that equips and enables our local church to take the holistic gospel of Jesus to some of the least-reached, poorest and most persecuted communities and nations in the world. As we, together with the global church, take the whole gospel to the whole world, we are seeing communities and nations impacted and transformed.
The Jesus mission is about taking the whole gospel to the whole world.The Whole Church
Apples only grow on apple trees. Disconnect the apple from the tree and it becomes inedible very quickly. The tree is a picture of the body of Christ - his church. To be effective, global mission has to connect vitally to the local church.
At CityLife Church we have a vision for global mission. It is a vision to plant more than 100 churches among unreached people around the world by 2016. The ministry that champions this vision is CityLife World Impact. The whole of our church can connect to this global mission vision in three ways:1. Prayer
Why not consider praying daily for a different country and our various missions partners? Alternatively, why not adopt one of our mission’s partners so that you and your life group can pray for them on a regular basis. You can find out more about adopting our global mission’s partners at https://www.citylife.church/missionaries/
Financial support is vital for resourcing our mission’s partners, their church plants and the various missions’ projects they undertake. You could consider becoming a regular financial partner with CityLife World Impact, or supporting one of our mission’s partners or projects. For more information see https://www.citylife.church/give/nations/
All of our mission’s partners deeply value the relational connection they have with congregation members from CityLife Church. Why not consider visiting one of our mission’s partners as part of a short term mission team. World Impact regularly sends out such teams every year. For more information see https://www.citylife.church/world-impact/
One important thing to remember about an apple is that you never know how good it tastes until you take a bite. If you have never been involved in global missions before, why not take a step of faith and try it? You will not regret it!Discussion Questions
1. Read Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:45-49; John 20:21; and Acts 1:7-8. Identify and discuss the emphasis of each of these accounts of Jesus’ last commands to his disciples.
2. Which part of the Jesus Mission appeals to you most and why?
3. What are some practical ways that you, as an individual or Life Group, can connect to Global Missions?
4. What are some practical ways that you, as an individual or Life Group, can connect to Local Missions?