June 12, 2014

Christians Are to Make Disciples of All Nations (Trinity Sunday Readings)

Jesus did not teach His followers to just attend church, be good and hire evangelists. He challenged them – and us to “...go and make disciples of all nations...”. (Matthew 28.19). “Make” is a verb – an action word. As Christians we have been baptized into a new covenant relationship of fellowship with the Father who loves and protects us, Jesus who died in our place for sin and the Holy Spirit who guides, heals and nurtures us. As we grow deeper in this relationship and discover our spiritual gifts we naturally want to share the good news of Gods’ grace, love and forgiveness with others. This is a challenge in our time as the dominant cultural values of liberalism are secularism and not offending the religious beliefs of others – like Jesus did!

 1. We are Baptized to proclaim the “grace of our Lord Jesus Christ...”(2 Corinthians 13.14).
Our Baptism is to strengthen and protect us in the ministry we are baptized into. That ministry is to “make disciples of all men”. “Make” is a verb, an action word that means working with other people to teach them what they need to know to experience the ‘grace’ of our lord Jesus Christ and become committed followers – disciples.
·         By sharing the good news of the “grace” that we have received.
·         By explaining the meaning and importance of grace as a way out of bondage to anger, bitterness and un-forgiveness
·         By being a sign of Grace and forgiveness in the world
·         By helping others understand the importance of being in a right relationship with God and receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit

Grace is the gift of undeserved forgiveness. Grace is what makes us innocent, even when we were guilty. It is very hard for many people to accept this amazing good news. Many people have been spiritually wounded by believing the lie that they are somehow not wanted or unloved by God. I have seen these captives freed from evil lies through the healing grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2. We are Baptized to proclaim the “love of God” (2 Cor. 13.14)
The God of Christianity is a God who loves. Everything that has been created - including each person, is created to be a sign of the love of God. This God who loves us does not love with a love that is weak, indecisive, changing or inconsistent.  Our God’s love is strong, decisive, unchanging and constant.
·         God is reaching out in love to individuals every day
·         God has reached out to us as Jesus to create a new way back into right-relationship through repentance and trust in Jesus sacrificial death on the Cross for our sins
·         God of Christians does not ‘lower the bar’ to make life easier.
·         God loves us enough to ‘raise’ the bar’ and challenge us to grow spiritually through the difficulties of life.
·         The love of God will never abandon us

3. We are baptized to proclaim the “fellowship of the Holy Spirit” (2 Corinthians 13.14).
‘Proclaim’ is also a verb, an action word. The Holy Spirit does not just appear at Pentecost.  As we have just read, the Holy Spirit was “hovering over the waters” at the creation of the world (Genesis 1.2). The Holy Spirit was also present through the Old Testament prophets, giving words of knowledge and wisdom. Our work as modern disciples includes helping people understand that God is still with us through the Holy Spirit. People are starving for spiritual fellowship – feeling they belong and are loved and accepted by God and other believers in a group. This fellowship is how we experience and proclaim the fellowship of the Hoy Spirit.
·         Holy Spirit is our connection to each other, to Jesus and to the “Saints” in heaven. This connection is broken when we sin.
·         Experience God in visions, words of knowledge, personal conviction for sins (our conscience) and in healing prayer.
·         Experience the gifts of love, joy and peace.
·         We proclaim the fellowship of the Holy Spirit by our example of being a loving, healing Spirit-led church fellowship.

 Challenge is to boldly regain our mission of making disciples
The Lord Jesus is very clear about what it is we are to be doing as a church. The mission is not to survive or grow as a parish. The mission is - to make disciples. Many Christian churches have been distracted and marginalized by political agendas that seek to avoid conflict. This is an abandonment of ministry. Jesus modelled aggressive proclamation of God’s love reaching out to individuals with the Good News of grace, forgiveness and healing to all people in all places.

In his Second Letter to the Corinthians, Paul challenges them as us to not only know about but also to be ‘the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit’.

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