Today I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you our mission that we as a plant want to achieve. It’s important for you here to assess our mission carefully because the mission of a church reveals a lot about what type of a church it is. The mission of the church, in our view, must be in line with the mission of God, because the church was created because of God and when the church meets it meets because of him so he should dictate what the church’s mission is.
In Colossians 1:24-2:4 the apostle Paul helps us with insight with regards to his mission that he was given by God for his churches. This passage not only shows us the mission of Paul but also for the church of God and this is our mission as a church plant.
Paul in the book is writing to the church at Colosse. This church that was not started by Paul himself but by Epaphras a faithful servant in the Lord. This was a church that had a great faith in Jesus Christ and it loved other fellow Christians, bearing the fruit of the gospel but there was a problem, there were other teachers who wanted to steal the joy that this church had in Christ. These false teachers were saying to them it’s good for you to start with Jesus but if you really want to progress as Christians you must do other things. In fact if you start with Jesus and continue in him you are an immature Christian, you need to move on to the next level (where you will see Angels, not eat certain foods, and follow certain special days) [paraphrase]. These guys were treating Christianity like it was a Tender, only people with special connection can get access to God and this access is not for everyone but for those who are very spiritual. Paul writes to this church and he warns them …no, no do not listen to these false teachers. They speak like this because they don’t understand what God is doing in the world, they don’t understand what the church of God should be doing in the world. In fact they don’t understand how important Jesus is to the God’s mission [paraphrase]. And in 1:24 he tells them what is he trying to do among God’s churches, the work that God has called him to and he is calling us to as well.
So the first thing we must know about God’s mission is that he wants us to strive …
To fully know Christ, God’s word revealed to the world
In vs. 25 Paul tells us that the reason he is facing so much suffering is not for himself but for the church. In fact these sufferings give him great joy because he knows that he is partnering with Christ for the sake of his church. And what is Paul trying to achieve for the church? Well he is trying to fulfil the work that God had given him and that work is to make the word of God fully known.
You see there is something very important that has happened in our time that didn’t happen for other people long ago. On the olden days God’s word was revealed only to the nation of Israel and the rest of us did not know what they knew. But now God has made known to the nations his word, and that word is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the word of God because Jesus reveals God to us. He reveals him because he is God himself. In 1:15-20 Paul explained to us who is Jesus and he tells us that Jesus is not just a prophet, he is not an ancestor but he is God himself. He is above all things in this world. He created everything and everything was created for him. He is the one who holds everything together and there is nothing that you can do without Jesus Christ. But Jesus’ work doesn’t stop there he is also part of solving the biggest problem facing this world and that is sin, our rebellion or independence from God has resulted in the world being broken and decaying. Things don’t work like they are supposed to. There is poverty in the world, our families are broken and our leaders don’t know how to get us out of this mess. But our biggest problem is above all this is that God is angry with us. Now if we are the problem, if God is your enemy where do you run to? Well God loves us so much that he devised a plan for us to be saved. 1:20 calls it the work of reconciliation. God has begun his work of making all things anew and Christ is the one who accomplishes this. Jesus is the one who reconciles all things to himself when he was crucified on the cross. This is the great plan of God, to renew all things in Christ through the proclamation of his word.
And now Paul, and us as God’s servants, has been given a work of making this Jesus known to all nations. If you know Jesus Christ you know God fully, you are not missing anything. So this is what we are about and will be about when we plant the church. We want the whole of Soweto to know about Jesus Christ, that he is Lord, that he loves them and he wants them to follow him. We are unapologetic about our single focus on him. Everything that we teach and do is so that he is made famous across Soweto. And as we preach Christ we are part of God’s major work of reconciling the world to himself and renewing all things.
You see, this message is not only for unbelievers but even Christians must know that if we want to grow and know all things, you grow in Christ and not away from him. That’s what Paul is saying in vs. 28, it is Jesus that we preach, we warn people not to move away from him and it is in Jesus that people mature. So we call the people of the world to Jesus but we also call Christians to the same Christ. We don’t keep this Jesus to ourselves and tell people that they need to do certain things to have Jesus, like give money or reach some spiritual level but he is for everyone: puff and pass Bazalwane, uJesu umnandi nendebe eziningi.
So we will teach people about Jesus in many different ways, in our sermons but also in our homes in bible studies, one to one meetings and in workshops or special events that we will have. All these things will have will have one main aim- for us to fully know Christ.
But our aim doesn’t end there. We know that when the word of God goes out it is not just information so that we can be smarter but it is life transforming and God’s word in Christ calls us to be united and love one another as an expression of our love for him.
To be united and in love in Him (2:1-3)
I had already touched on this briefly that Jesus is doing a reconciling work in this world. As Christians we are also part of that work, not only in preaching about the unity that Jesus brings but for that unity to also be seen in us. This is the goal that Paul speaks about in 2:2, he wants the church to be encouraged to hold on to Jesus and grow in him but also be united by love. The love of Christ and us knowing him must not divide Christians but unite them because they have one king.
It is the preaching of Christ that creates unity and love among Christians so that they can continue to proclaim Christ to the world. We are to be a community that at its core gets it. It gets that Christ calls us to be God’s community. A community that is not deceived by the devil, a community that cares for one another both spiritually but also physically, a community that is a family with order and love. A community that loves to meet together, not out of obligation but out of a genuine love and compassion for your fellow family member.
We want to be a family that knows what the great treasure that they have in Christ, such that they are not deceived by the world but at the same time be so amazed by this treasure that they want to tell the whole world about it.
That is who we want to be. Our mission is to know Christ because God has revealed himself and his plans in Christ and we want to be a part of that. We want to love one another because we understand that reconciling with God means that we are family that loves and cares for one another through God’s word but we also want to reach Soweto for Christ because he is the only way for them to escape God’s judgement, all of God’s treasures are in him so we don’t keep him to ourselves but we puff and pass and share Christ with everyone.