As a Christ-centered leader, your primary purpose is to focus on God’s mission and to equip those whom you lead to do the same. So, as a reminder, it is not your mission, and it is not your church’s mission. It is God’s mission. It is important that you start with the knowledge and understanding of “missio Dei,” God’s mission.
It is also important to understand that you and the people you lead are invited into God’s mission through baptism. Each of you are claimed by God and commissioned to be about God’s business of loving others as you have been loved. So, your primary call is to be who God created you to be. You are a “beloved child of God” gifted for loving and serving the people you encounter every day in everyday situations. Every aspect of your life and ministry is focused upon God’s mission.
Your Priority is Jesus
To say it another way, your priority call is to follow Jesus and to teach, equip, and lead others to do the same. When Jesus becomes your priority, you love others as you have been loved and the church fulfills God’s mission by loving the people in the community, the neighborhood, and the world.
When Jesus is the priority, the church itself is not only a product of God’s love but is compelled and destined to share God’s love. The mission flows directly through every Jesus follower and every group of people who define themselves by God’s love. So, to focus on God’s mission is to make Jesus your priority and become agents of God’s love in the world.
For a more in-depth exploration, read the other blogs in the Preparing for Mission series:
- Preparing for Mission: Hospitality is a Lifestyle
- Preparing for Mission: Building on HOPE
- Preparing for Mission: Making Jesus Your Priority
- Preparing for Mission: Answering God’s Call
- Preparing for Mission: Being About God’s Business
Now, let’s move on to structuring for God’s mission. Let’s look again at Matthew 28:19-20.
Read Matthew 28:19-20
19 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 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Reflect on HOPE
(To get a firm foundation for Building on Hope, read Preparing For Mission: What is God’s Mission? Part 2)
Using Jesus’ commissioning of his followers, Matthew provides a structure of HOPE upon which you can build a system for living into and equipping others regarding God’s mission. Although it is an imposed structure, it is one way to live into loving others as you have been loved in and through Jesus.
HOPE is an acronym for Hospitality, Offering Christ, Practicing Faith, Engaging the Community. So, since it is God’s mission and you are invited to participate in it, Jesus sends you out to live into and to participate in God’s mission. He says, “Go…”
The word “go” literally means “as you go.” It carries with it both presence and movement. The idea here is that wherever you are, you are in mission. For example, as you go (wherever you are) to the office, to school, to the grocery store, on vacation, etc. These are the times and places you are set apart to live a life of love. These are the times and places you live in the life of HOPE.
Let’s look at the structure of HOPE.
H – HOSPITALITY
Verse 19 notes, “make disciples of all nations.” The word “nations” literally means “ethnic” or “people.” “All nations” is an all-inclusive word. At the risk of being over-simplistic, it includes all people. So, wherever you go, you are participating in God’s mission. At every moment you are working for the well-being of the people you encounter.
Paul wrote to the church in Rome, “Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” You have been invited, called, and commissioned to be a person of hospitality, where you live, work, and play, for the purpose of loving others as you have been loved.
You are a person of hospitality as you reach out and receive the people God sends your way. Why do you receive them? It is who you are as a follower of Jesus. Hospitality is God’s business. You reach and receive all of God’s people, loving each of them as you have been loved.
As a Christ-centered leader, you are modeling hospitality for the people entrusted to your care so that each of them will become persons of hospitality by loving others as they too have been loved.
You reach and receive all people, for the glory of God.
O – OFFER CHRIST
Verse 19: “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” The words “to baptize” carry with them something more than water baptism. “To baptize” means to dip or to immerse. As you encounter people, you love them. You dip them, you immerse them in the love of God by the way you receive them and care for them. But only that, you immerse them in the “name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”
The words Father, Son, and Holy Spirit refer to the movement of God. We are instructed to immerse those becoming Jesus followers in the movement of God, or into “missio Dei,” God’s mission. We are instructed to saturate them in God’s love as experienced in and through Jesus. So, wherever you are or whatever you are doing you have the opportunity to love the people you encounter. You have the opportunity to invite people to learn of Jesus and to immerse them in God’s love in such a way they too will love others.
The movement of God’s grace and the mission of God’s love, agape, is made real in and through you and through your relationships with the people you encounter each day.
As a Christ-centered leader, you are offering Christ, God’s agape, to the people you meet by what you say, how you say it, and by the way you receive and love them. Your action of agape is a greater invitation than your words. You become so immersed in the love, the movement, the mission of God, that all you say and do invites others to love as they are being loved.
You offer Christ by the way you live your life and interact with the people you meet each day. By your living, you are inviting people into God’s movement of grace and God’s mission of love.
P – PRACTICE
Verse 20” “teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” The word “teaching” for Matthew refers to what he wants you to do about “holiness.” It is what you learn as a follower of Jesus. It is what the movement of God is all about. At the very heart of “holiness” or “righteousness” is relationship, relationship with God and with one another.
This “holy living” or different living implies a right relationship with family, friends, strangers, and enemies. It includes being proactive in how you treat others. You act on behalf of others not because they have acted on your behalf but because you have been loved by God in and through Jesus.
This “holy living” means having integrity. It means being as good as your word. It means you can be trusted when you let your “yes” mean “yes” and “no” mean “no.” It means that you are not conflicted but integrated into your living. How you act and relate to others grows out of who you are, from the convictions of your heart.
This “holy living” does not get tripped up on things but seeks first the kingdom of God. The “holiness” of God is not focused on buildings or furniture, but upon people regardless of their economic, social, or political status.
This “holy living” means your caring for others becomes so natural that you care for everyone the way you would care for Jesus. You care because that is who you are, a grace-filled Jesus follower who is putting your faith into action.
This “holy living” means taking the initiative in forgiveness. It means to forgive as many times as it takes to restore the relationships that are being broken. It is the relationship that is important.
The words “to obey” mean “to observe” or to “pay attention to.” To obey “these things” means to practice what you are learning. To obey these things means to observe or pay attention to this holy living. It is easy to talk about this “holy living,” but it is not so easy to live it. To “obey” or “pay attention” means to do or to live these things. It means to make these “holy living” a part of our daily living.
As a Christ-centered leader, you lead others in practicing hospitality and in offering Christ in all they say and do. You practice faith by the way you love others. You practice faith by inviting others to practice what they are learning about “holy living” in relation to the people they meet each day.
You nurture the people around you in God’s love and lead them into practicing God’s love in everyday situations and circumstances.
E – ENGAGE
People are sent out into the community to live the life of love as they have experienced in and through you and other followers of Jesus. As they experience hospitality, they extend hospitality. As they are immersed in God’s love, they invite others to be immersed in God’s love. As they practice “holy living,” they are inviting others to experience and to practice God’s love and to live a holy life.
Remember, you are sent out by Jesus. “Go” literally means “as you go.” Wherever you are, you are set apart to live the life of love as experienced in and through Jesus.
Verse 19: “make disciples.” A disciple” is a student or follower. You have been invited, called, and commissioned as a follower of Jesus. This is important. You have not chosen Jesus. Jesus has chosen you. You are a follower of Jesus.
Now, some people misread the word “make” as coercion, but that is not what Matthew means by “make” disciples. Matthew is concerned about the “holy living” as developing healthy relationships. So, how do you make disciples? You make disciples, followers, and students of Jesus, the same way Jesus did. You love people. You bless them, help them, and care for them. Just as with Jesus, (agape) the well-being of people becomes your priority.
You practice the love of Jesus so you might become like Jesus. When you read the Gospel of John, you discover that the followers of Jesus are known by the way they love one another. So, to “make disciples” means to love people as you have been loved. It is to engage in the love of God in the places you live, work, play, and associate with people.
Verse 20: “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” The greatest part of this “holy living” is that you are not left alone to do these things. The Risen Christ is with you. God does not leave you to fend for yourself. The very birth of Jesus is announced as “and they shall name him Emmanuel which means, ‘God is with us.’” The mission of making disciples is God’s mission. You have been invited to participate in God’s mission. If God calls you, God will equip you. When God calls and equips, God will be with you, even to the end.
So, you have been given a structure of HOPE to help facilitate God’s mission in and through the church. The structure of HOPE equips followers of Jesus to live out God’s mission in the world. HOPE assists you to become who God created you to be, and who you are is how you lead.
Today be aware of how you model HOPE for the people you lead. Be alert to opportunities to welcome others as Christ has welcomed you.” Take notice of the occasions you have to offer Christ by what you say and do. Be mindful of your “holy living” in your interactions with the people you meet. Begin to build a structure of HOPE by the way you model hope in everyday situations and circumstances.
O God, make me aware of the people around me today. By your grace, help me be a person of HOPE to everyone you send my way. Help me yield a little more of myself so that I may love others as you have loved me in Jesus. Help me be faithful to your call upon my life so that I may be a blessing to someone, somewhere, today. And help me be a person of HOPE to everyone you send my way. Amen
As you reflect back upon your day, give thanks for God’s call to follow Jesus. In what ways were you hospitable? Who did you invite into God’s movement of grace and into God’s mission of agape? How did you practice your faith? With whom did you practice? How did you engage your community in God’s mission, God’s love? With whom do you need to celebrate the love you experienced in and through them? What will you do differently tomorrow?