How to make sure that we live for the right things - the things God created us for and re-created us for.
When God made mankind, he made us with a purpose. Part of being made in his image was to rule this creation, to be vessels of God’s kingdom. We messed that up.
God’s mission has been one of reconciliation and restoration. That is, God has been working to fix our broken relationship with him and restore us back to his purpose. We saw this in Noah, Abraham, Moses and ultimately Jesus.
I think the best way for us to process this topic is to start with some questions. Do you believe God wants people to know him and be in a relationship with him?
David and I have the privilege of being elders here at NCF. We love teaching people about God. Are you convinced that God has called me and David to join him on his mission?
If you have accepted the gift of salvation through faith in Jesus, then your relationship with the Father has been restored! So, let me ask you one more question. Are you thoroughly convinced that God has called you to join Him on his mission?
God has a mission and wants everyone to join him on that mission, but most people who have been re-born will be satisfied with attending a Sunday service, listening to their favorite Christian music and volunteering in their church (maybe).
Joining God on mission is something that takes effort. Actually, it is something that takes intentionality. I want you to understand the truth of what God has done for you and what you and I have been called to - intentional kingdom living.
2 Corinthians 5:16–21 || From now on, then, we do not know anyone from a worldly perspective. Even if we have known Christ from a worldly perspective, yet now we no longer know him in this way. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come! 18 Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. 19 That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: “Be reconciled to God.” 21 He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. [CSB]
This passage makes it super clear that God has a mission – a mission of reconciliation. Jesus came and took our sins upon himself and died for us so we can be reconciled to God. What Jesus did was to help fulfill God’s mission on earth.
In Christ, we are new creations. This is taking us back to the creation narrative in Genesis 1-3. We were created very good and given the task of ruling with God. We sinned and broke creation. Now, trough Jesus we are re-created and restored back to a relationship with God like it was in the garden.
We LOVE to pause and recite vs 17, “I am a new creation! The old is gone!”. But I hear very few people quoting verse 18, “I now get to help other people know God!”
It is not just what has been taken away (our sins) but what has been given to us (our mission). We have the privilege, the commissioning of God to join him on his mission. We are re-created to our mission of ruling with God. This new life is meant to be lived with a different set of lenses – focusing on the things that please God, focusing on the mission of restoring others.
2 Corinthians 5:18–20 || Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. 19 That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: “Be reconciled to God.” [CSB]
I think we would do well to recognize that this ministry of reconciling people to God is not optional. We are GIVEN the mission, it has been COMMITTED to us. THEREFORE, WE ARE ambassadors for Christ.
There is not much we can misunderstand about that. If you have been reconciled to God through Jesus you have been recruited by God to join him on his mission.
So, let me ask again: Do you believe you are called to join God on his mission?
That mission is to reflect God to the world around us. To show Gods love to people who are part of God’s family. It is also to show God’s love to people who do not yet know God. It is also to plead with people to come to God through Jesus.
For us to take up this mission means a shift in the way we view life.
To be intentional about all of this is the real challenge. It means that we start by changing the way we view everyday life. Paul talks about this in verse 16. So, what is this new perspective? It is a kingdom of God perspective.
Colossians 3:1–2 || So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
The key is to “set” our minds on God’s kingdom. Things above does not mean the stars, but rather the things that take place in the presence of God. God speaks and worlds are created. God speaks and we should move on his command.
If I have been raised to new life in Christ, I am to seek the things above where Christ is seated next to the right hand of God. In other words, I am to seek the kingdom of God. I am to seek God’s rule and reign in my life and see him in everything. I need to not focus on the things of the earth but on God and his mission.
Matthew 6:33–34 || But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. 34 Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. [CSB]
Matthew says it a little more plainly. In the passage leading up to this he reminded his readers not to get caught up on the things of this world but to focus on the kingdom of God.
When we focus on the mission of God, the God of that mission will take care of the things that we need.
If we are going to truly live for the kingdom of God in this life, on this earth, we have to embrace a few concepts, and then we need to be intentional about how we live them out.
The apostle Paul used a particular phrase that I think helps us to start to think about kingdom intentionality. That phrase is, “whatever you do”. There are three passages that I want us to look at that use that phrase, and though each has a little different construct in the Greek, they are saying that whatever you are doing in this life, do it in such a way that it is effective for the kingdom.
Eating & Drinking [Recreation]
1 Corinthians 10:31 || 31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. [CSB]
Do everything for the glory of God. That is why we exist, right? The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. But HOW do we glorify God?
Paul gives us some insight: whatever you do, do it for God. But in this passage, specifically he says whether we eat or drink.
Every part of my daily existence can be used to accomplish the mission of God. My meal times, my home, my work, my recreation – the rhythms of my life, the things that seem mundane and pointless become opportunities for divine redemption.
Work Ethic [Occupation]
The next passage Paul writes to slaves. We don’t have slavery in our day in the USA. However, the principles apply to any of us that work for a boss as a volunteer or for pay:
Colossians 3:23–24 || Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people, 24 knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ. [CSB]
Do you work as if it was for God. Why? Because it is! He gave you the job! But to have a kingdom perspective also recognizes that my workplace is a mission field and that the people I work with need to see God in me.
The way I respond to difficult people reflects God. The way I accomplish my tasks reflects God. The way I take ownership of my mistakes as well as my successes reflects God. It means that even if I have the worst boss in the world I work as if it is God who is writing out my paycheck.
Word & Deeds [Interaction]
I really encourage you to read all of Colossians chapter 3! We talked about the first few verses earlier. But I want us to jump to verse 17 now:
Colossians 3:17 || And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. [CSB]
The way that we interact with others: our speech and our actions. What we say, how we say it. What we DON’T say – all of this needs to be with a kingdom intentionality. What we do for others, how we show them love and grace. How we bless them the way God has blessed us. All of these things are meant to help us fulfill the mission of God.
When you put the three of these passages together, it looks like this:
- In your speech, point people to God
- In your actions towards others, point people to God
- In the way that you work, point people to God
- In the way that you do the daily things of life, like eating, point people to God
In all three of these passages, it is easy to gloss over the phrase, “whatever you do.
Intentionality means looking at all of my life through the lens of who God is, what He has done and what I now get to do with him.
- It means that I see all my activities as possibilities for God to show up
- It means that I see all my circumstances/challenges as opportunities for God to be on display
- It means I see a bigger purpose behind all of life. It is not what I can do, but what God can do through me. It is not my circumstances, but the events that God has orchestrated.
Let me help us unpack that a little:
If everything happens for a reason, and if God works everything together for his good, then in light of his mission, we can believe that all of the situations I face have the ability to make an eternal impact. Every challenge is not just to make my life miserable, but perhaps to provide an opportunity for God to use me for his mission (Ruth, Job, Daniel, Esther, Joseph).
Daniel chapter 6, Daniel is thrown into the lion’s den, but does not get eaten. Here is the result of that:
Daniel 6:25–27 || Then King Darius wrote to those of every people, nation, and language who live on the whole earth: “May your prosperity abound. 26 I issue a decree that in all my royal dominion, people must tremble in fear before the God of Daniel: For he is the living God, and he endures forever; his kingdom will never be destroyed, and his dominion has no end. 27 He rescues and delivers; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth, for he has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” [CSB]
It means that every location God takes me, he has a reason for me to be there, and every place that I want to go and can’t, it is because God has a reason and needs me to be on mission somewhere else.
Acts 16:6–10 || They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia; they had been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7 When they came to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. 8 Passing by Mysia they went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision in which a Macedonian man was standing and pleading with him, “Cross over to Macedonia and help us!” 10 After he had seen the vision, we immediately made efforts to set out for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. [CSB]
God moves people on purpose! He moves you where he needs you to carry out his mission, IF you are living with kingdom intentionality. In other words, Fort Drum might not be a punishment, but a divine appointment 😊
Circumstances - COVID-19
Our schools just announced that they will be closed for a month. We might end of cancelling our public meetings for a few weeks and going to online meetings only. People are panicked and afraid. But we have a hope, and we have a bigger picture of life. Even a pandemic can be used for the kingdom of God.
If the virus hits our area there will be people in the church and in your neighborhood that might need you to get groceries for them. down temporarily, opening your table for people to have a meal with you could be a huge blessing.
You may be able to sell things that you have to have extra money to help people pay their bills.
Acts 2:44–47 || Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. 45 They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with joyful and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. Every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. [CSB]
It’s NOT that we have another job to do. It is that we need to change our focus. EVERYTHING we do is meant to align with God mission! Our lives are not compartmentalized with our faith in one box, our work in another, hobbies in a third, family in a fourth. It is that now, after being re-born in Jesus, all of life is now meant to be lived on mission.
Our new identity that came with our new life in Jesus now enables us to live out our new mission of reconciling people to God.
God wants to use all of life for his kingdom. That means that you and I need to live with kingdom intentionality – seeking to use our words, actions, work, homes, food – everything for the sake of his kingdom.
Our hope is that this time we have together over the next few weeks will help each of us be more intentional about living our lives for God’s mission.