Becoming Mercy Fellowship | Part III Our Identity & Mission
Topic: Gospel Passage: Matthew 28:16–28:20, Matthew 22:36–22:40
Christopher Rich – June 28, 2020
Becoming Mercy Fellowship | PART III
Our Identity & Mission | Matthew 28:16-20 and Matthew 22:36-40
Introduction | Mercy….. Fellowship
Good Morning Welcome to Mercy Fellowship where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. As we emerge from a season of lockdowns and unrest it is easy to ride waves of the daily and weekly challenges and chaos but we are going to spend this month slowing down and focusing on who are and who we hope to be in Christ as we are Becoming Mercy Fellowship. We hope our name is both inspiring to those who call us home and inviting to those who have not yet gathered with us. Our name also communicates what we believe about the Gospel, God, Jesus, and ourselves so we want to understand what our name means so it can inform and influence our culture and impact our community.
Mercy is strength because God is Rich in Mercy. As we consider what Mercy is, means, calls us to do and be, we need a comprehensive understanding so we can be inspired to embody mercy and be a place inviting others to experience Mercy. In the Bible, the concept of "Mercy" is not getting the just consequence we have earned as a result of our sin. It can also be as simple as extending or experiencing "kindness" think Steadfast Love. Mercy is a mega theme in scripture across generations and genres. We see cycles and patterns of God meeting our sin with His mercy and then calling us to respond to sin in the world with Mercy. We embody and embrace Mercy as conduits who receive from God and live and give mercy to others.
What does” Fellowship” mean? Greek is Koinonia - Rich word. It refers to a participation and communion with God and His people sharing, contributing for a common purpose. A "Fellowship" is a group of people brought together for a purpose. In the New Testament God's people, the church, were defined and described as a partnership for the Gospel because of the Gospel. A fellowship is more like a team to play on than a club to join. In Acts 2 we see “fellowship” identifies the idealized state of unity and purpose that should exist within the church. Created by God, empowered by the Holy Spirit, centered on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Everyone was invited to experience this community and encouraged to actively participate rather than passively consume. True Fellowship exists when it is from and for God. Fellowship runs deeper than our superficial differences. God created Fellowship binds us together with those whom we have nothing in common but Christ deeper than those with whom we have everything in common but Christ.
Matt Nickel - “My prayer for our church is that we would be rich in mercy and devoted to fellowship”
Today as we close this series out, we are going to simply attempt to answer the questions “who are we?” and “Why do we exist?” both individually and collectively as a church.
PART I | Our Identity, We are… | Various
How we understand and talk about our identity matters because who we are, impacts how we think, and what we do. We routinely remember our identity as we preach and teach. At Mercy Fellowship WE ARE:
“Saved by Jesus’ Work.” | Doctrine of Gospel Salvation
Ephesians 2:8-9 | 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Because of Sin we are spiritually dead, and our just destiny is judgement and wrath. We need to be “saved” from our sin. Our souls are corrupted, and our will is inept to be able to save ourselves through some self-improvement plan, so we need to be saved from ourselves. God, being Rich in Mercy has made us alive through Christ. It’s Christ life of obedience that we are given our right standing before God. It’s Christ’s work on the cross in our place that pays for our sin, satisfies God’s justice, and secures our place in His kingdom. Jesus is the Hero of our Story!
"Changed by Jesus' Grace." | Describes Gospel Transformation
Titus 3:4-6 | 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, Being saved from the consequence of our sin and having our eternity secure is amazing! But we want more, and God in His mercy and loving kindness has given us more. We are not simply pardoned sinners, or promised future glory, we are privileged citizen saints now who have been regenerated and are being renewed. Changed is both past and present tense. I am no longer who I was, and I am becoming who God has created me to be. Not perfectly but progressing. 2 Cor 5:17 | Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. Jesus made and is making us New!
"Living on Jesus' Mission." | Defines Gospel Purpose
John 20:21 | Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” The resurrected Jesus in his first meeting with His disciples reminds them of His purpose, of the purpose of the Gospel. He was sent by God the Father on a mission of peace to restore the broken relationship between God and people. To preach repentance of sin and receiving the kingdom of God. Jesus was sent, lived, died, and rose for His people. We are sent by Jesus. Jesus gave us life, so we live for Him! Our Identity implies our mission, but if we are "Living on Jesus' Mission" we need to know what Jesus has said we are to do. Jesus has given us clarity in his teaching to His disciples and we have attempted to summarize two big charges given by Jesus that impact all that we do as a church. So “Why do we Exist?”
Mercy Fellowship exists to make disciples of Jesus Christ who Love God and Love People.
PART II | We EMBRACE the Great Commission | Matthew 28:16-20
Matt 28:16-20 | 16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
As a family identified by Jesus, they gather around Jesus. The eleven disciples go to Galilee to meet the risen Jesus on a familiar mountain top. This is going to be a significant time; it is the last words of Jesus in Matthew. They see the risen Jesus and worship Him as God. “but some doubted,” I love this because it shows us that even disciples who knew, served, followed Jesus still struggled with doubt (translated another way “hesitation”). This should be incredibly encouraging for us that our faith doesn’t have to be rocked or jettisoned merely because we have moments of doubt or questioning. I believe the answer for doubt is the greatness of God in Jesus. Jesus meets worshipers and doubters and answers them both with All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Jesus is no longer the suffering servant, the man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. Jesus is now the victorious King, appointed with all authority imaginable, who will return in glory. Because of Jesus Identity Disciples of Jesus are worshipers of Jesus’ divinity. Jesus is God.
Jesus has all authority! Yet he doesn’t then tell us what He is going to do with it, He tells us what we are going to do because of it!! We are here because of the Great Commission. We are here for the Great Commission.
Go, Therefore - (What is the therefore, there for?) In this case, because Jesus is the king, because Jesus has all authority in Heaven and on earth, now go and actively live out the mission of Jesus. He has authority over us and over our mission field. He will empower and equip us to fulfill the mission He’s called us to.
We are a sent people. But what does that mean? It means we are called to regularly go from our places of comfort to places that challenge us. It means we cross lines that make us uncomfortable in order to be ambassadors of Christ kingdom and pointing people to our risen king. Because we can easily forget this, Mission is never something that can be assumed. Jesus commands us to GO on faithful outward mission, meaning beyond ourselves, because he knows our default is to an inward focus. Why don’t we do this? We like staying! We like familiar, we like comfortable, and we like settling. How tempting is it to be in places and with people that only encourage and never challenge. We need to have both a broader and deeper view of what it means to “go”. “Go” is best understood “as you go”. This means your rule of life, way of being, the how and why of what you do. Because Jesus is sent Disciples of Jesus are ambassadors of Jesus’ kingdom and mission. This is all of us. “Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.” – CH Spurgeon
Make disciples of all nations - Some are called to go to all nations, some are called to stay and make disciples of this nation. Being a sent people that doesn’t mean everyone will leave Snohomish County or our region because there is a unique and challenging mission field right here. So our going is clear but now we’ve got to know what we are going to do. What is a disciple? Disciples of Jesus increasingly submit to the authority and Lordship of Jesus in every aspect of life and encourage others to do likewise. Disciple is both a noun and verb, an identity and an action. You are a disciple and you disciple. We are all a disciple of someone or thing and we all disciple. Where have you been called to make disciples? Where is your primary responsibility? The church, the people of God have a responsibility to make disciples of all nations, yet we are so individualistic we read a command and commission like this and we easily get overwhelmed and discouraged, and forget it is a communal charge. Jesus doesn’t pull Andrew aside and say “it’s on you buddy, all of it.” He tells all eleven. To be clear these guys saw some amazing things happen; but the commission is multigenerational. We have to be ok with pursuing this commission knowing we may never see the fruition of it in our lifetime. (Cathedrals whose designers never got to see the finished product.)
Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, a disciple is one who has converted from their belief in their own ability to save themselves (or that they have no need to be saved at all) to someone who has trusted and placed all their faith and hope to be reconciled to the God of the Bible through the work of Jesus in their place, and empowered by the Holy Spirit to live new lives for him. That is why our baptism shirts say simply “Buried with Jesus, Risen for Him.” A disciple of Jesus is no less than a convert to the Gospel of Jesus, but they are also more than a mere convert they are a new creation. Jesus' authority commissions us to go about our lives making disciples, practicing baptism, and teaching disciples to observe (live out) what He commanded. This begs the question...What did He command?
PART III | We EMBODY the Great Commandment | Matthew 22:36-40
Matthew 22:36-40 | 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
We added the great commandment into our mission statement because without it we loss the heart of God for His people to be in whole relationships. When you’re so focused on “advancing the mission” that you neglect people, then you have forgotten Jesus’ mission is FOR people to be with God.
Jesus is referencing Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 that boil down to Love God and Love People. Your Bible might call this The Great Commandment. We say this is kindergarten simple but grad school difficult. Simple: Love God and People. Difficult, because of the comprehensive nature of this teaching.
Love God - To love God requires us to know God and be known by God. Know completely the God you love.
Heart – Affection – Character of God (Mercy, etc) causes us desire communion with the Goodness of God.
Soul – Worship/Spirit – Nature of God (Power attributes) drives us to respect and revere Greatness of God
Mind/Might –Intellect and Action. – Commands of God (instruction) directs us to obey the Lordship God.
All of this implies time, talents, and treasure give from God stewarded for the purposes of God. It means we will intentionally spend time in prayer to God, studying the Word from God, and live life for God. This is beyond a lifelong journey to know and grow in relationship of a God who is both infinite and intimate.
Because the love of God impacts the entirety of our being, our whole self should respond by loving God.
Love People… specifically your neighbor (other people) as yourself! Loving people as yourself requires great curiosity to grow in self-knowledge and great compassion to maintain a life focused on others. To Love people means you have to know and be known by people. That includes (but is not limited to) knowing and loving yourself. You need to know yourself. You are a person who matters, who needs to be known and loved. I have regularly dealt with unhealthy levels of self-contempt. When I was a kid a counselor asked me to draw a picture of my family, so I drew my Dad, Mom, and sister and gave it to her. She asked me “Where are you? You are part of your family!” We need to remember we are part of the family!
Neary the whole of sacred doctrine consists of these two parts: knowledge of God and of ourselves. – Calvin
Augustine’s Prayer – “Grant, Lord, that I might know myself that I may know thee.”
To truly know yourself is to know the person that God created for a purpose and who God loves and who God has saved. It is to know the sinner saved by grace and to know the saint adopted into the family. It’s to know one for whom Christ died and to know one is not unchanged is being changed by Jesus’s grace. This isn’t a call to pop psychology, but it is a call to avoid focus on outward piety that has a deep and destructive distance from what is shown externally and what is sewn into our souls internally. Because of our sin we need to be saved from ourselves. Because of our Christ we are saved to be ourselves, the selves God intends us to be for His glory and for our joy. People who Love God and Love People, including others.
To love others, you have to know others AND be are actively engage in their welfare as your own. A fellowship centered on the truth and life of the Gospel is counter-cultural, but it is not combative with culture. It is distinct from the community around it, but it is not disconnected from the community. We cannot simply be a fortress of the faithful but a welcoming refuge to all who’s burdens are hearts are heavy laden. We have been loved by God who loves people even when unlovable, so we can and will love our city and county in tangible ways. Right now, it feels like our region is harder to love. When we remember we have been loved by God even when we are unlovable, then we can intentionally pursue and engage our community with the grace and mercy of Jesus as we seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.
Mercifully we don't pursue this mission alone with our limited strength and abilities. God has encouraged, empowered, and equipped us (individually and collectively) with the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. As we remember our identity and mission, we have great comfort and confidence in the Gospel advancing, even the gates of Hell cannot and will not prevail against Christ's church who simply TRUST JESUS!