Christ Mountain Top
purpose: Nail in the coffin of universal communism
weeks back, we introduced this series of messages on the spiritual practices
that help us walk with God. We’ve discussed the LIFE of Worship and the
Community of FRIENDS. This week, we’re focused on the PURPOSE of Mission. We’ll
wrap it all up next week with an invitation to step out on new adventures, to
follow the trail blazed by Jesus and the great cloud of witnesses, and to leave
a few blazes of our own for those who come after us. Please be sure to be here
for this special service.
Appalachian Trail, the “AT”, that Steve Ross is hiking. He told me about the
tradition of “Trail Magic” – unexpected kindness and friendship encountered
along the way. This is one of those stories:
for the series:
we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
us lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely,
let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,
to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith,
for the sake of the joy that was set before him
the cross, disregarding its shame,
has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
him, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.
spheres: Worship – Community – Mission
(Purpose), from one perspective, holds it all together, unites all. Emil
Brunner: “The church exists by mission, as a fire exists by burning.” Our
mission is the mission of God, the mission of Jesus, the mission of the Spirit.
It is not our own. At the heart of mission is a heart that gives: “For God so
loved the world that God gave his only beloved Son” (John 3.16). That kind of
gift creates and forms community, the kind of community that Jesus nurtured, a
community that crosses barriers. That kind of gift brings the whole world to
Jesus in worship: “At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow and every tongue
confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2.5-11) “so that God may be all
in all” (1 Corinthians 15.28).
Woman at unregistered Palestinian village (1996)
84:5-6 Happy are those whose
strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. 6 As they go through the valley of
Baca [barren valley] they make it a place of springs…
Broken window in a city church (youth outreach)
the homeowner, not Jesus’ opponents, not Jesus himself
friends – note that startling detail – in response to the faith of the friends,
Jesus calls him “Son”, forgives his sins, and heals him.
talk about tithing in the church, because it is in the Bible. It means giving God
ten percent. We get lots of objections, mainly because most of us not only
don’t tithe but, between fixed incomes, debt, and maintaining a target standard
of living, we really can’t even entertain the idea itself. Sometimes, the
objections are biblical or theological in construction. For example, Jesus
doesn’t say much about tithing. That’s true. He gets on the case of the
religious elite for their tithing, not because they tithe – which he tells them
to continue – but they think their tithing makes them better than everyone
else, even though they fail in other spiritual practices such as compassion.
The real reason Jesus doesn’t talk much about tithing is that he’s an
all-or-nothing kind of Savior. He doesn’t give 10% to save us. He surrenders
all. He doesn’t ask us to give 10% to him. He asks us to surrender all.
discipleship as a whole, not just about our generosity. Because Jesus asks us
to give it all – the entire paycheck, the car, the house, our kids, our
partner. I’ve been tithing, and often giving above 10%, since I was a kid,
getting paid $5 to mow a neighbor’s lawn. It has been really tough at times to
keep tithing, especially as an adult with two infants and an income below the
poverty level, or – later and much better paid – with two kids in college.
Tithing has been a real gift in my walk with God. It has helped to set me free
from an obsession with my needs and personal security. It has helped me to
“seek first God’s kingdom” (Matthew 6.33). Tithing, though, is not the same as
giving it all. I’ve still got plenty to learn.
therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all
your possessions” (Luke 14.33).
is an expression from the Greek root for “exist, be present, be at hand”. That
is, we are called to renounce all that is “present” in our lives for God’s
future, to give up all that is in our hands for what is in God’s hands, to
forsake everything on which our existence and self-image is based in order to
base our existence and image on Jesus alone.
kid.” That reality, that Jesse is not mine, changes my relationship with my
son, just as the gift of tithing changes my relationship with wealth.
transforms – connections
want to turn your attention to the green
sheet in your program. It has a list of the three basic practices
associated with mission – social justice and hands-on service, invitation and witness,
and generosity – along with practical suggestions for us to take our next
steps. Next week, as we wrap up this series and tie it all together, we’ll each
be invited to indicate the next steps we believe God is calling us to make
together in all three areas of worship, community, and mission. Today, we
simply preview some possible steps in the practice of mission, a purpose that
creates and transforms connections.
– Steve Ross,
ActionChurch/Habitat for Humanity
your doorstep and just waits for you to respond”