In this past year there has been an increase of people who are in need, physically and spiritually. The mandate of Christ followers is to come alongside people who are vulnerable and in need, extending compassion and hope. Often when we feel restricted, God tends to move the most. Here, we are reminded that He is able. It is in these times that we are challenged to walk by faith rather than by sight. God declares:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Now more than ever, our call to missional living is being ramped up, not cancelled. To understand how might take reshaping our thinking on what mission is and more than ever, we need an increased reliance on the Holy Spirit to lead.
All of us are called to missional living. Particularly in times of suffering and grieving, we should ask for boldness like the early missionaries. They prayed boldly because of what they knew they would have to face and the unknown ahead of them (see Acts 4:29-30).
Moving forward, the greatest way we serve Jesus is when we meet someone else’s needs. He said, “Whatever you do for the least of these, you do for Me” (Matthew 25:40). Jesus used the example of the good Samaritan to show that this man, who was on his way to do something else, took the time to meet someone’s need. It was inconvenient, it was costly, it was countercultural but he did it nonetheless. It is his actions that Jesus used as an example of what loving our neighbour looks like, and it is that example we are to model. As we love our neighbours, we love God – the first greatest commandment.
Every dollar you give, every person you are hospitable to, every sacrificial act you do for another, is all part of the mission. Sharing the good news of the gospel goes hand in hand with showing the restorative work of the gospel by caring for people in their suffering. It is Jesus who saves but he accomplishes his restoration through his people. He uses you and me.
In carrying out the mission, the Spirit is our strength. Jesus told his disciples in John 16:7 that the Helper, aka the Holy Spirit, would be coming to the world to convict people of sins, righteousness and judgement. The righteousness we are convicted of is rooted in the Hebrew term tzadeqah meaning “being just.” Tim Keller summarizes it as “day-to-day living in which a person conducts all relationships in family and society with fairness, generosity, and equity. Right living with others is what it means for us to be righteous.” Living righteously isn’t bound by a pandemic or restricted travel. We are not called to operate in a way that always makes sense to the world. Rather, living on mission is something that infuses into our daily lives. We are compelled to care for others because of our convictions to be just, and living it out from a transformed heart.
Our mission should be disrupting the daily order of our lives. It creates a tension of pushing us out of our comfortableness, resulting in more space for the Spirit to work. When you live in that tension, being on mission never stops, it’s never cancelled. Then, when we do have the opportunity to go visit our friends around the globe, our visit comes as an outpouring of what we’re already sowing.
If mission is not cancelled, then what does it look like? This is what it looked like for the people of Village Church this year:
- People caring for vulnerable people in our communities – individuals and families, who were hungry, isolated, or living in fear from job losses and unknowns. Food hampers were delivered to their doors and to our local schools with encouraging notes and we hosted multiple drive-through hamper pick-ups where people saw a community present in supporting them.
- Seniors who were extra susceptible to the health effects of Coronavirus and were often isolated in their homes were seen by volunteers who would call them and deliver them food to their doors with joy. One lady I spoke with said, “It’s honestly just nice to hear the phone ring.” Many seniors have stories of having no family members around. They couldn’t pick up the food items they needed from the store because it wasn’t safe for them to be out. Some didn’t have the technology to do online cheque deposits the government sent because banks in their town were closed and they didn’t have anyone to drive them. The list is extensive of the fears and barriers seniors faced in this time. But time and time again we heard how grateful these seniors were to have people show up with food, in good spirit, and offer joy through smiling eyes (masks on) during a dark time. We had opportunity to offer prayer and build relationships.
- Mission is like people who were generous with their giving – people at our various locations gave thousands of dollars in gift cards and food donations. They were faithful in their tithe to our church, which then allowed us to continue supporting our partners locally and globally, including our global missionaries. This allowed compassionate work and disciple making to continue in regions of the world where we couldn’t physically visit. Nationals were empowered to carry out Jesus’ mandate for people in their own communities. They worked hard to feed families who were already in poverty, and were days without food because they couldn’t work so they couldn’t eat. But our partners were able to meet their needs. Efforts were taken to keep rural communities safe from the spread of the virus.
Do you see the ripple effect of being an agent for God? Our mission is not cancelled Village Church! It’s very much active because you are active. Thank you for your faithfulness in a trying time.