Working Together to Accomplish the Mission of the Church

Working Together to Accomplish the Mission of the Church January 27, 2020

Working Together to Accomplish the Mission of the Church

Working Together to Accomplish the Mission of the Church

Isaiah 42:1-9

This week, you might have heard that a logo for the United States Space Force was released. The mission of the Space Force is “a military service that organizes, trains, and equips space forces in order to protect U.S. and allied interests in space and to provide space capabilities to the joint force.”1

Long before there was a Space Force, there was the Space Shuttle.

I grew up in the Houston, Texas area near NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Johnson Space Center is known as Mission Control, a place where people work to help astronauts on their missions in space.

The time to watch NASA’s Mission Control on television would be when they blasted off and when they landed. In the first part, when they blasted off, there is tremendous anxiety to see that the Space Shuttle will make it into space. You hear the countdown, and then you see the Space Shuttle. You hear the words: “Blast Off.” This is the first part of the mission.

When a team on the space shuttle finished their work in space, they would land in California or Florida. When they landed, you would hear the words from the Johnson Space Center Mission Control “Mission Accomplished.” The is the second part of the mission.2

In between these two words, “Blast Off” and “Mission Accomplished” is the work of the space shuttle crew. In the same way, Jesus came during His first coming, when He “blasted off” His Mission.

““This is my servant; I strengthen him, this is my chosen one; I delight in him. I have put my Spirit on him; he will bring justice to the nations. (Isaiah 42:1, CSB)

During His second coming, Jesus will hear the words: “Mission Accomplished.”

He will not cry out or shout or make his voice heard in the streets. He will not break a bruised reed, and he will not put out a smoldering wick; he will faithfully bring justice. He will not grow weak or be discouraged until he has established justice on earth. The coasts and islands will wait for his instruction.” (Isaiah 42:2–4, CSB)

In space, the space shuttle has a mission to accomplish in space. They may repair or install a satellite. They may do a secret mission for the United State military. In either case, the space shuttle crew does the work of Mission Control from Houston. They have a purpose and then they land back on Earth.

Like the Space Shuttle crew, as Christians, we have a purpose.

““I am the Lord. I have called you for a righteous purpose, and I will hold you by your hand. I will watch over you, and I will appoint you to be a covenant for the people and a light to the nations, (Isaiah 42:6, CSB)

We do the work that God has us do. Jesus blasted off our mission, but won’t return until the mission is accomplished. God has declared it and predicted that the mission would be accomplished (Isaiah 42:9).

The past events have indeed happened. Now I declare new events; I announce them to you before they occur.” (Isaiah 42:9, CSB)

The WHY of the Mission of the Church

““This is my servant; I strengthen him, this is my chosen one; I delight in him. I have put my Spirit on him; he will bring justice to the nations. He will not cry out or shout or make his voice heard in the streets. He will not break a bruised reed, and he will not put out a smoldering wick; he will faithfully bring justice. He will not grow weak or be discouraged until he has established justice on earth. The coasts and islands will wait for his instruction.” (Isaiah 42:1–4, CSB)

Why does the Space Shuttle go up into space? Why bother at all? Because what they do, can bless other people. The work of the Space Shuttle crew provides opportunities and abilities that were not possible before. They have blessed us by deploying satellites that help make our smartphones useful. With these Global Positioning Satellites, we can know how to get to point A or B by just using a map on our phones. We can follow in real-time the directions we need. We can anyone on the Earth and even do that by video. This benefits everyone. That’s just one example. There are many other examples of space-age technologies that would only be possible today because of the space shuttle missions. In medicine, because of the space shuttle missions, we have LASIK surgery, space blankets, scratch-resistant lenses, invisible braces made out of transparent aluminum. Light-emitting diodes are used in medical therapies to treat tumors. These are just a few of the many kinds of technologies that are available now because of NASA and the crews that worked on the Space Shuttle missions.

Why does the church do what it does? Why do we share the message of Jesus with others? Because like these technologies, the message of Jesus is life-changing. It brings justice to the world. Until Jesus returns, we won’t see this world ruled the way it should be. The word justice here means not just the role of a judge, but the role of a leader. The idea being that the Servant here in Isaiah is the only one who can implement justice, lead a proper world, make everyone’s life better. Just as Jesus is going to be able to do that on a world-wide scale when He returns, He expects every Christian, on an individual level to lead by example.

In other words, Jesus expects me to bless others by showing how life can truly be in this world. My example of following Jesus is life-changing. It’s more than life-changing, it’s eternal life-changing. What we do improves the lives of others on an eternal scale. At the same time, the work of the Bible and Jesus change lives for the better here on Earth. That’s why we share the message of Jesus – to improve the lives of others around us.

The WHAT of the Mission of the Church

This is what God, the Lord, says— who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk on it—I am the Lord. I have called you for a righteous purpose, and I will hold you by your hand. I will watch over you, and I will appoint you to be a covenant for the people and a light to the nations, (Isaiah 42:5–6, CSB)

The Space Shuttle mission is always the same: Get the ship up in space so that something can be unloaded and reloaded. The payload may be different. Sometimes, it’s a person to replace on the International Space Station. Sometimes, the crew has to unload a satellite. At other times, the crew has to conduct experiments. The task of getting up into space is the same. The way the mission is completed depends upon the audience.

In a Space Shuttle mission, if the customer is the United States Air Force, then the mission is to deploy something they want. If the customer is NASA, then the work is primarily scientific in nature. If the customer is a company, then the work is to deploy their product. If the customer is the International Space Station, then the work is to resupply.

In either case, the space shuttle crew does the work of Mission Control from Houston. They have a purpose and then they land back on Earth. Like the Space Shuttle crew, as Christians, we have a purpose. In the mission that Christians are called to, the what is the same: sharing the Gospel.

““I am the Lord. I have called you for a righteous purpose, and I will hold you by your hand. I will watch over you, and I will appoint you to be a covenant for the people and a light to the nations, (Isaiah 42:6, CSB)

What is different is the customer and the presentation. That leads us to the “who” of the mission.

The WHO of the Mission of the Church

in order to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon, and those sitting in darkness from the prison house. (Isaiah 42:7, CSB)

The who of the mission are the people we are called to reach. The Servant in this passage has a purpose to reach out and help those who are blind, in prison, and in darkness. This sounds similar to the mission that Jesus spoke concerning Himself:

The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Luke 4:18–19, CSB)

The Space Shuttle missions are targeted to help certain groups of people (scientists, astronauts on the International Space Station, companies with payloads). The mission Jesus has given to us reaches different people as well.

Jesus not only saw it as His mission to reach out to the poor, but He also taught this to his disciples. In His teachings about the kingdom, Jesus continually challenged the social order of His time. He identified with the poor, the oppressed, and the outcasts of His society. He outraged many by associating with women in public, treating them as equals. His concern for the weak was a challenge to Rome’s unjust treatment of the “worthless” and Israel’s many social distinctions.3

Yet another principle is that the vast majority of people who you are called to reach are economically distressed. If you look at all of these groups of people, they all have one thing in common. They are economically distressed. If you read through the Gospels, Jesus went out to the poor. Yes. They came to Him. But He first went fishing in the pool of the poor. The rich reached out to Jesus. But Jesus never actively sought the rich.

I honestly think that this is a principle for the church. The modern American church thinks that you have to reach out to the rich. But you don’t have to. Nor are you called to do so. Instead, the rich will reach you. Jesus identified His personal people group. He also prophecies that this people group will matter to Him. The parable of the judgment shares who Jesus cares about. It shares who He thinks we should care about.

Just like at work, you start at the bottom. You don’t start at the top. You start with the neediest people in the community. You have to love them. You have to show love to them. You may not like their methods or lifestyle, but you are called to reach out to them. I think this is one of the reasons that Jesus said:

You will always have the poor with you.” Jesus never said that you would always have the rich with you. You know why? Because the rich don’t hang out with you. They have an exclusive club and nature about themselves. In general, the rich as a group of people don’t care about you as a person. But the poor do. They will always reach out to you.4

The HOW of the Mission of the Church

I am the Lord. That is my name, and I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols. (Isaiah 42:8, CSB)

In each Space Shuttle mission, there are mission specialists in the crew. A mission specialist has a special talent and ability that they use along with other crew members, are able to accomplish the mission. One might be a payload specialist or a special scientist. There are pilots and crew members who walk in space. They work on the mission together with others in the spacecraft. They also work with others down on the Earth at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

“Houston, we have a problem.” When you hear that phrase, you know that the astronauts need help. They call down on people from the ground to help them solve the problem. There are all kinds of people working together. Engineers, specialists, operators, all kinds of people with special talents and gifts working together to solve the problem. These people on the ground don’t get sidetracked doing other things or playing around or getting into nonsense disputes when the astronauts are in space. When the astronauts, these specialists are ready to help accomplish the mission.

When it comes to reaching the community for Jesus, “Washburn, we have a problem.” We need everyone involved to use their talents and gifts to work together to accomplish the mission. We should not get distracted by doing other less important things. We don’t spend time giving God’s glory to another person or idol. We don’t waste the glory of God on petty issues. We don’t need to spend time arguing with each other, getting upset over petty things, or playing around. We need to all be involved in accomplishing the mission.

This is the reason why we get trained in how to pray, read the Bible, build better relationships, and how to share the good news of Jesus. The training we do is so that we can go out on mission and share the Gospel with others. We work together as a team to share the message of Jesus until He returns.

The WHEN of the Mission of the Church

The past events have indeed happened. Now I declare new events; I announce them to you before they occur.” (Isaiah 42:9, CSB)

The time to accomplish the mission of the church is now. When the Space Shuttle crew is up in space, that is when they accomplish the mission. They have a limited time to get the mission done. If they are fortunate, they have as much as ten to twelve days. Yet, in that time period, you never see a mission in which they have lots of free time on their hands. They are busy with work. They know that their time is limited to get things done up in space.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, CSB)

““Look, I am coming soon, and my reward is with me to repay each person according to his work. (Revelation 22:12, CSB)

The same is true with the church. Our time to reach out to our community and share the Gospel is limited. It is limited because we all age and we only have so long on this Earth to accomplish the mission. At the same time, the window of opportunity to reach different people is also short. We have a limited opportunity as a church to reach each generation for Christ. Each of us has to work together to maximize that effort. By using our talents, gifts, networks, special abilities, and relationships, we accomplish the mission of Jesus.

1 “U.S. Space Force Fact Sheet,” https://www.spaceforce.mil/About-Us/Fact-Sheet, accessed on 24 January 2020.

2 Jim Erwin, “Mission (Not Yet) Accomplished,” Isaiah 42:1-9, 21 March 2016, Internet, Patheos, https://www.patheos.com/blogs/jimerwin/2016/03/21/mission-not-yet-accomplished/, accessed on 24 January 2020.

3 Jim Erwin, Breaking the Power of Addiction by Planting a Set Free Church in Barry County, Missouri, Chapter 2, “Biblical Rationale,” doctoral dissertation, (Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary: Kansas City, Missouri), 2013.

4 Jim Erwin, “I Love My Community,” Luke 4:16-19, 25 February 2019, Internet, Patheos, https://www.patheos.com/blogs/jimerwin/2019/02/25/i-love-my-community/, accessed on 24 January 2020.

Photo by Terence Burke on Unsplash

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