Blood moons. Earthquakes. Famines. War. Ebola. Deadly lava flows. Hurricanes. School Shootings.
A recent taste of the headlines in this country during the last month. The expediency of our news is alarming. What used to take weeks or months to get across the country can now be accessed globally in just a few seconds. Want to know what’s happening anywhere in the world? CNN has an app that sends breaking news to your phone and you can follow along instantly.
Like some sort of cosmic Bingo, we try to get the right order for the end of the world. We pull passages from here and there, guess what Jesus might have meant here, and read into what John and the other early Apostles wrote a persecuted church.
So we plot, and we plan, and we chart, and we graph and we convince ourselves that we can predict when Jesus is coming.
There’s only one problem with this plan: Jesus told us not to.
Jesus gave us assignments and tasks, predicting the end of the world was never one of them.
In fact, I’m convinced that if we took Jesus command to ‘make disciples’ as seriously as we worried about things that he told us not to, our churches would be in much better shape.
Knowledge is foundational for a life of mission.
Knowledge of what? Peter seems to give us three areas of focus…
1.) The story God is telling
2.) Belief in the Resurrection of Jesus – He is both Lord and Messiah
3.) Repentance and baptism
In his appeal to the crowd that day, Peter starts by tracing the story God has been telling. It’s an important part of his speech, and later Stephen will use the same tactic right before his martyrdom, and it’s something that we miss too often. Part of being able to join God on mission, is to know the story that God has been telling. The calling of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The creation of a people, the formation of a holy nation, the salvation and a life found in following Jesus, the great heroes and heroines of our faith, and how God is shaping and calling us, as individuals and a community, to further the story that he begun.
By choosing to follow Jesus, not only does he save us from sin and death, he gets say in what we do.
[/pullquote]The second area is belief in the resurrection of Jesus. Peter refers to Jesus as both “Lord and Savior.” First, he is the savior, the Messiah, the promised one. The Old Testament tells of his coming, and the New Testament tells of his glorious victory over power, death, and sin. He carries forward for us the unshakable hope that God is a God who keeps his promises and that his desire is to restore and redeem all parts of our humanity. The second part of that, that Jesus is Lord, is about positional authority. If someone is a Lord, or a King, they have a rule and dominion. They have a sphere in which they exercise power. By choosing to follow Jesus, not only does he save us from sin and death, he gets say in what we do. By choosing to follow Jesus, he gets to say what we do to our lives. Earthy kings rule over a piece of property, Jesus as King rules over the decisions and desires of our hearts. We are told by Paul that we are, “Dead to sin, alive to Christ.” We alive for what he would have us do.
Lastly, what Peter highlights, is the need for repentance and baptism. Repentance, the biblical idea behind the word, is about a 180. We were headed east, and now we are headed west. Repentance is a complete turning from what we were doing into a new life of what God would have us do. And baptism is ultimately about an identity marker to our allegiance. Does baptism save you? No, but it does symbolize the burying of your old self (going under the water) and your desire for a new life of resurrection power in Christ (coming out of the water).
The book of Acts teaches us the fundamental elements to living a life of mission. All of us, have at one point in time, stated a desire to share our faith, to evangelize, to put our faith into action. The book of Acts, as we shall see, will give us four requirements: To Know, To Grow, To Show, and To Go.
A life of mission starts by knowing. By knowing the story that God is telling, who Jesus is, your place in that story, and who God is calling us to be.
This is a part of the blogging series through Acts, and a sermon adaptation from a recent teaching at Garden Park.