Jesus’ mission or ours? Perhaps both.

How similar is our mission to that of Jesus?

Paul’s inspired theological genius yielded the great doctrines of justification, sanctification, and glorification. Jesus, however, echoed salvation’s call in the simple beckon, “Follow me.”

A“disciple” is best defined as “follower” – someone who figuratively “walks in the footsteps” left by his or her Master. Like the rich young ruler, Christ calls American Christians not merely to know theology and live religiously, but to live as He lived.

As Messiah, of course, Jesus’ mission was special. He lived a sinless life and died a sacrificial death to save the world. But even in those roles, Scripture doesn’t quite let us off the hook. Jesus calls us to “be perfect” (Matt. 5:48), carry a cross daily (Luke 14:27), and seek to save the lost (Luke 15).

Months ago, when Aaron and I began talking and praying about planting The Mission, we were concerned we’d end just another a church machine producing maintenance workers.

Searching for the heart of Jesus’ mission, I landed at Luke 4, which depicts the day Jesus’ ministry was inaugurated. It’s when He stood in the Nazareth synagogue and read from Isaiah 61. The passage prophetically described His Mission (and that of His followers).

Here’s the original passage from Isaiah. Months ago I printed it and gave it to Aaron as a Mission statement of sorts for us to prayerfully consider.

1The spirit of the sovereign Lord is upon me,
because the Lord has chosen me.
He has commissioned me to encourage the poor,
to help the brokenhearted,
to decree the release of captives and the freeing of prisoners,
2to announce the year when the Lord will show his favor,
the day when our God will seek vengeance,
to console all who mourn …
(NET Bible)

Observe the verbs. To follow our Lord’s example, we’re “to encourage … to help, to decree, to announce, to console …” See anything there we can’t do today?

Did you notice how relational and personal some of these callings are? It requires we know people well enough to know which ones are poor or brokenhearted – struggling in bondage – depressed or grieving.

Like Christ, we are called to be missionaries to our world. We each have different gifts, abilities, testimonies, and spheres of influence. Yet we share the same core mission: to help people wherever they’re at find freedom in Christ.

This Sunday I visited Imago Dei – a Portland church that has brought the light of Christ in a spiritually dark city by serving real needs. Honestly, I don’t know a ton about them or their leadership, but God brought me there nonetheless.

Imagine my surprise when the pastor unexpectedly broke from the sermon series to tell the story of how they planted the church 10 years ago. I, of course, was all ears.

He humbly explained the various ways the Lord led and shaped them as a body – from critics who liked to talk about how churches didn’t serve the community into people who actually did it. He then shared the two passages from Scripture God used to guide them.

The texts?
Isaiah 61 and Luke 4.

Maybe we’re on to something …