5 Steps to Join the Mission of Jesus

by Jul 29, 2015

5 Steps to Join the Mission of Jesus

by Jul 29, 2015

Christians are people who want to be around Jesus. And Jesus is on a mission to bring lost people into his family. So if we want to be around Jesus, we don’t have a choice: we’ll either join him on his mission or we’ll be left behind. As John Piper once said, “Christianity is a soul-winning, out-reaching, mind-persuading, heart-entreating, rescuing, missionary faith. Or it is not true Christianity.”

The best model we have to follow apart from Christ is the missionary faith of Paul. He challenged us to “walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col 4:5-6).

Every Christian on mission with Jesus will be like a cultural anthropologist, studying the people around them and the culture of the mission field God has placed us in. We’re usually as unaware of the culture we live in as fish are unaware of the water they’re swimming in. But if you want to “know how you ought to answer each person,” you need to understand people better than they understand themselves.

Paul modeled this well when he visited Athens in Acts 17. He took a walk around town, talked to the people he saw along the way, and learned much about what the Athenians valued, feared, and worshiped. If we want to be like Paul, there are five questions we should ask about the people God has put in our lives:

1. How are people influenced?
Paul knew the Athenians’ poets and philosophers, which he proved by quoting them from memory: “He is actually not far from each one of us, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’  (Acts 17:27-28).

What about our neighbors, coworkers, and friends? What cultural influences shape the way they think and feel?

2. How are people shaped by common experiences?
For the Athenians, religiosity was something they all shared: “Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For I passed along and observed the objects of your worship. (Acts 17:22-23).

What about your friends? What do they like to talk about? What do they do with others? What binds your circle of friends together?

3. What do people value?
The Athenians valued covering all their bases, and worshiping all possible gods. As Paul observed, “I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god” (Acts 17:23). They didn’t waste any opportunity to find favor with someone who could benefit them.

What do your neighbors, friends, and coworkers value? What do they spend time, energy, money, passion on?

4. What values should we commend? Challenge?
Paul commended the Athenians’ belief that “in him we live and move and have our being” but challenged their tendency to worship created things: “Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man” (Acts 17:29).

There are some things your friends believe and value that are commendable. Maybe they honor their family well. Then there are other values and beliefs that are clearly unbiblical. How can you challenge them in love?

5. Where do people gather and connect?
Paul “reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there” (Acts 17:17), then he moved on to the university hall, where people enjoyed talking about new ideas.

Where are the connecting points in your neighborhood or workplace? How can you plant yourself where people already are?