Dr. Charles Revis, Executive Minister, ABC of the Northwest
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his
work.” John 4:34
Advent celebrates the Savior’s entrance into the world to accomplish a mission, a rescue mission that sprang out of the Father’s loving heart. We were people cut off from the Living God and abundant life. Our sins left us condemned and without hope. Our Father would not allow people He had created to remain in such a hopeless state. Love compelled Him to do the unthinkable, to offer up His only begotten Son.
His heart would be broken just as His Son would be broken. The rescue mission was dangerous, difficult and His Son would pay the ultimate price. The mission’s trajectory started at the cradle and ended at a tree. That tree had no lights or tinsel on it, only the red blood of a perfect man.
That pure blood was shed because we had rebelled against the One who launched the very mission that would rescue us. God’s rescue mission to this dark world changed all of that. Through His death and resurrection Jesus transformed our enmity against God into friendship. His death purchased our life. His captivity gave us freedom. His blood washed away our sins. In Christ, we who were once hopelessly lost have now been found! (see John 5:24-25) Uncountable blessings are ours because the Son gladly embraced the mission of His Father. No wonder we give gifts at this time of the year, for we have been given the greatest of gifts and many blessings besides.
But hold on! The mission isn’t over. The mission continues. The first “Missionary” sent the “Rescued Ones” back into the world to continue the work of rescuing. This happened when the disciples were all huddled together in fear behind a locked door. Their leader had been crucified. There was a rumor about that Mary Magdalene had seen him alive again, but they weren’t fully convinced. Instead they were waiting for the dust to settle. Perhaps the Jews were already on their way to stamp them out. To their utter amazement Jesus came and stood among them. As some were trying to figure out how he did this with the door locked firmly in place and while others were shaking in their sandals, He announced peace to them. Translated for today, he said, “Quit sweating it, I’m with you!” He showed them the marks in His hands and His feet from His recent suffering. And, just as joy and renewed hope was welling up in their hearts Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (John 20:19-20)
All too often we forget that all followers of Jesus are “under orders.” Every Jesus follower has been sent. Each believer is a commissioned believer. Every true disciple is a missionary. John MacKray said it like this,
“The whole church must become a mobile missionary force, ready for a wilderness life. It is a time for us all to be thinking of campaign tents rather than of cathedrals.”
When we gather together for worship, we gather as the sent ones, who are scattered once again into the world. Huddling together behind locked doors on a Sunday morning fearful of the world beyond belies the church’s purpose. Instead, worship services are more like huddles in the midst of a football game. It’s a brief timeout to reconnect, look to the director, coordinate the next play, pick up the ball and move down the field a few more yards, all for the glory of God. Imagine how frustrating for a coach if the only play the team ran was the huddle. On the other hand, imagine how fulfilling, thrilling and joyful when the team touches the life of a broken, starving, disillusioned, despondent or homeless person with God's love. Or, the team reaching yet another person who otherwise was headed to an eternity separated from God.
The Advent season is an auspicious time for Jesus followers to be on mission. Whether you are working alone or in a team, this is a season to be aware that during Advent people far from God are especially open to God’s love. Some will respond to an invitation to attend a worship service or candlelight communion. Others will join you when you go to feed the homeless or give toys to disadvantaged children. Or, how about something as simple as inviting some “pre-Christian” friends over for a meal and conversation?
Christmas offers us a time to reflect on the mystery of a rescuing Father who loved us so much He gave His only begotten Son. Such reflection will cause us to not only praise God for His great gift in Jesus, but it will motivate us to go forth and serve in obedience, for the world continues to be at the center of God’s rescuing heart. May your heart be warmed with the love and grace of Jesus throughout this Advent season.
Originally published December 2007 © Dr. Charles Revis, ABC Northwest