Called Out 4: The Mission

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What is the mission of the Church? Is it a building program? Is it evangelism and conversion? Is it cradle to the grave programatic ministries? Is it a culture war? Is it political engagement? Which of these things was Jesus focused upon? To regain her bearings, the Church, which has become the religious establishment, must be able to hear Jesus words as he spoke to the religious establishment.

“Jesus said, “For judgment (krima-legal decision, “~clarity”) I came into this world, that those who do not see (blépo-“look, understand”) may see, and those who see may become blind.”  Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.” (John 9:39-41)

Does the Church today think it “understands” or “sees?”

Jesus message was about judgment, discerning the Truth in a world that could no longer determine what it was. Like our post-modern times, truth seems to be relative because so many institutional powers claim to possess it. It’s hard to read his words and not import thousands of years of culturally contrived religion into them. However, if we are graced to hear it freshly, perhaps lasting reform can allow the Church to step off it pedestal and regain its true source of power instead of clutching to its worldly institutional power. If not, it remains on the severe side of truthful judgment.

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world (cosmos) might be saved through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.  And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.  For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.  But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”” (John 3:17-21)

Like a non-stick coating, the religious mind always hears Jesus words and applies them to “others” or “those people.” It’s the essence of being lost. The most lost soul is the religious mind trapped in “otherness” disease. The institutional religion of Jesus day is not unlike the institution of the Christian religion today.

“Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. …” (John 8:43-44)

Can religious leaders hear these words any better today than those to whom Jesus spoke the above words?

We’ve rebuilt our temples, we’ve established a hierarchal priesthood, we’ve doled out our law and requirements for compliance, entrance, and good standing. Christianity has become just like all religions, doing “institutional” work. Systemically, it has become a principality and a power. If that offends you, just know that it offended the religious of Jesus day too. Faith is not supposed to be directed toward a religion, faith is supposed to be directed toward Christ, the cosmic figure who was sent from God, as God, bearing his message.

” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (John 6:29)

His mission is not one of futility nor failure. It’s not a losing proposition. That is the conclusion of those who mistake the container for its contents. His record is perfect. There are no drops. Institutions fail. God does not. Institutions obscure our sight lines, but once we see beyond them, we are forever lifted and play above the net.

“For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.  And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.  For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:38-40)

So much of our world is turned off by religion. Rightfully so. Yet scripture is so clear that no one is more turned off by religion than the religious heart. The more in love with your team, the more you hate the team just like you. The message of Jesus is so distinct from religion that the religious couldn’t bear it and many turned from him. They just couldn’t “swallow” the idea that we can possess God apart from religion.

“After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.  So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”  Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,  and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:66-69)

“I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” They did not understand that he had been speaking to them about the Father.”  (John 8:26-27)

The unbearable message of Jesus to the religious mind is that the world (cosmos) can possess an intimate, loving relationship (father) with God and not possess a religion. It is the religious mind that most rejects Jesus’ words of life and reject this message of Truth.

“I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” (John 8:24)

“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

The mission of Jesus himself is not conversion to a New Religion. It is belief that Jesus is who he said he was. Just as in Jesus’ day, the religious mind rejects this. Keep in mind, the atheist shares the same fundamentalism as the religious mind. The institutions of our world are competing for your religious compliance.

I covered all this ground for the sole purpose of giving you a lens through which you can see the establishment of the early church and understand it’s mission. If Christ is the head of the Church, and the Church is his physical body, empowered by the Spirit, then it is untenable that the mission of the Church would be something other than the mission of Jesus.

Jesus was not engaging in a political power play. That is what the Jews were expecting of him and he disappointed them much to Judas’ chagrin. Jesus was not in a culture war. The culture is a by-product not an end product. A culture is nothing more than the collective’s understanding of Truth. The darkened mind, the cockroach reality within the human heart, strives against the light of truth and lives like Adam in hiding from or in denying the existence of God.

Jesus was clearly condemned by the institutional powers of Religion and State, so than how can his true Church now be aligned with either power? By abdicating it’s internal spiritual power and authority, graced by the Holy Spirit upon it, the contemporary Church has lost its moorings and sought power externally through political means, and religious colonization. The mission has been truncated and corrupted from the restoration of the world from the inside out, unto a battle for religious and political power from the outside in.

“Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word.  You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. …” (John 8:43-44)

I ask you, how appropriate are Jesus’ words to the modern Christian religion? Who among the leadership of a denomination, large organization, or cultural power will hear this? Who among the institutional powers has the eyes to see it?

The mission of the church is NOT conversion. It is not joining Jesus’ team as we understand it today. Christianity was never intended to be a lifeless religion with window dressing and powerless pomp standing along side of other lifeless world religions in a bidding war for the worlds affections and dollars. It’s mission is not about a single way of relating to God, but the countless ways of experiencing Christ.

The mission of the church cannot be other than the mission of Jesus, and his mission clearly was not about conversion, but about completion. The mission is about bringing that small kernel of faith, which resides within all people (cosmos) as image bearers, into maturity and conscious awareness. The church is not supposed to compete for converts, it was the embodied power of God to complete (sanctify) each person by liberating them from the captivity of their favorite institutional sins unto a conscious awareness and fidelity to the Truth. We are to each be students (disciples) of Christ’s work in completing what he started in each of us.

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

By focusing solely on morality within the culture, the church has relegated itself to the sidelines by making Jesus into naughtiness shampoo, marketing to religious people who feel dirty inside. If the Church would like to regain her true source of power, she must rethink (repent) everything and forsake its chokehold on cultural and political manipulation. She must orient herself around True North and recapture the wisdom to show the world its folly without joining it. Then as the world (cosmos) awakens to the reality that Christ following is and always has been the only means by which anyone has ever found satisfaction in their Maker apart from religion, the culture will gradually reflect that inner transformation within every corner and strata of society.

The only hope for the world is not an evacuation strategy for those clever or lucky enough to wear the right jersey on some future day of judgement. NO. The DAY of Judgement is today, it’s right NOW, it is within THIS MOMENT, the ETERNAL MOMENT. Until the Church learns to “BE HERE NOW” in the PRESENT (His PRESENCE), it cannot serve humbly and proactively, instead it remains reactive and hostile to “others” while its message is threatening and fearful.

The mission of the church is to be the restoring hope of the world, it is to be a light in the dark world which orients people toward Truth. It is to be the salt of the earth which not only acts as a preservative, but allows each and everything to taste more like itself, by bringing out the true essence of all things. The mission doesn’t argue it’s way over the top of others, it completes each path by extending every path all the way back to God. This is how Christ redeems the world, when the cosmos realizes that the little voice in our heads, that counsel from a friend, that help from a stranger was Christ all along. The mission of the church is not to get out of earth unto heaven, but to enlarge the kingdom of heaven here and now, so that his love is so palpable and visible that no of us can go through life and miss God.

This mission is not a pipe dream. This work is taking place all over the world through the love and service of countless people who will never identify with an institutional power of this world. To find them, there is no place for you to go, you must only lift up your eyes and See Beyond Everything.