When God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world, He sent Him with purpose. That purpose was centered on the glory of God in the redemption of sinners. Jesus was not ignorant of this purpose. He frequently said things like, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose” (Lk 4.43), and “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour” (Jn 12.27), or “When the days drew near for Him to be taken up, He set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Lk 9.51).
As He went about progressively fulfilling this purpose until it was finished, He connected with people in a way that highlighted His unique knowledge of God’s will for particular people. Take, for example, Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus, that wee little man, was a curious little man as well. He climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Jesus, and I love the words that Luke uses to describe what happened next, “When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today'” (Lk 19.5). Christ’s knowledge of God’s will for Zacchaeus is in play here. Jesus stands on the “X”, so to speak, and once there, looks up. He calls Zacchaeus by name and tells him to come down. Why? Because He must stay at Zacchaeus’ house on that day. And as Jesus, so also salvation visited that house that day.
Knowing our Purpose
As disciples of Jesus, we are not ignorant of our purpose either. Every Christian is redeemed, indwelt, gifted and commanded to follow Jesus by carrying our own cross daily. And as our lives become increasingly cruciform, we do things like testify to the risen Christ, calling people to repentance and faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. In this way, the body of Christ advances the accomplished purpose of Christ. We labor to fulfill the Great Commission of our ascended Master and King (Mt 28.16-20).
The way in which we have desired to live our lives on mission for Christ’s glory is through church planting in Newton, MA. We have just begun to settle into our new homes, and already the Lord has made it plain to us that this field is white for harvest. At this point, we are thankful that we are not without that Godward and missional compass called the Bible. Our purpose is plain. The mission of Christ Community Church goes something like this: We exist to magnify the glory of God’s grace in Jesus Christ by proclaiming Him to all peoples for their everlasting joy in God.
But what is our plan for executing the stated purpose? This question has come to us more frequently than any other over the past three years. Just this past week, two local pastors asked us this very thing and, after some reflection, we came to this: fumbling and trusting. To our delight and, perhaps, our relief, this sounded about right to them.
Very simply, our plan is to live and preach for the glory of God to the best, not just of our ability, but according to the grace that God supplies. We will meet our neighbors, invite them in to our homes, seek to do them good, live holy lives before them, have a sincere interest in their temporal and eternal well-being, and speak to them honestly about Jesus Christ. We will invite them to come to Christ, repenting of sins and resting upon His finished work. We will be Christians in this world! No radical here; just biblical! And in all these things, we are fumbling about, learning on the fly, applying the gospel to a new people, getting our families adjusted, trying to find jobs, dropping the ball, running past each other — any other cliches to enter here? The point is that we are seeking to be faithful to Christ, and we are not afraid to confess our own weakness in this task. May Christ’s power be made perfect!
Though we fumble about, yet we trust. We trust in the Lord our God. “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes” (Psa 118.8-9). Princes bring many advantages. Solomon would be a good friend to have when the plant’s bank gets low. But Solomon cannot “Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord,” nor can Solomon become “my salvation,” or our “cornerstone” (Psa 118.19-22). There is no better Advocate than our heavenly Father, Who happens to be the one true, eternal and living God. There is no better Master than our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom belongs all authority in heaven and on earth — in every village of Newton. There is no better Helper in gospel ministry than the sovereign Holy Spirit. Solomon can give us gold, but God can give us that and, through our planting, work redemption. Salvation, that is only possible with God (Mk 10.26-27)! Christ is greater than Solomon, and in Him we do not hope in vain. At the end of the day, we are not looking to programs or human invention but God, Who said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt 16.18). In the midst of our fumbling, we are trusting the Omnipotent, and there is no better place to be this side of glory.