Over the past two months we have been engaged in an ongoing discussion about what being missional means here in Metropolis. You will remember that being missional essentially means that as a church and as individual followers of Jesus, we see ourselves as missionaries to our community. Being missional is far more than just a program or strategy for church growth. Being missional is ultimately a lifestyle that reflects the attitude, character, and purposes of Jesus. Over the next few weeks I want to lay out some of the characteristics of a missional lifestyle. My prayer is that God will use these articles to challenge you and help you to live out a missional life in your neighborhood, community, workplace, and family.
The first characteristic of someone who is living a missional lifestyle is that they are singularly devoted to Jesus Christ. When asked what the greatest commandment was Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord Your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37) What this verse tells us is that Jesus is to occupy the first place in our life. There are to be no rivals. Jesus must come before our own pleasures and delights. He must come before our families and other relationships. He must come before our careers and even our church. Jesus must be first in our lives. The Apostle Paul expressed this characteristic in Philippians 3:8 where he says, “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ…” Paul is saying in that verse that in comparison to knowing Jesus nothing else in this world has any value. Jesus had so consumed his life that for Paul nothing else mattered.
When we are uniquely dedicated to Jesus we will desire to serve and honor Him above all else. Personal comforts, pleasures and preferences all will take a back seat to what Jesus desires. We will begin to reflect the character of Jesus in real and tangible ways. His desires will become our desires. His concerns will become our concerns. Most notably, we will begin to exhibit the attitude of a servant. According to the Bible this attitude of service was one of the distinguishing marks of Jesus’ character. Matthew 20:28 says, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Philippians 2:6-7 says Jesus, “did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant…” But it is also telling that the most frequent word Jesus used to describe His followers was “servants.” In other words, we cannot really claim to be dedicated followers of Jesus if we are not serving others.
Being a servant is an essential part of what it means to live the missional lifestyle. A life lived solely for its own pleasure or preferences is the direct opposite of being missional. A missional Christian is always on the look out for ways to serve others as a reflection of the way Jesus served us. That means that within the church we look for ways to serve other followers of Christ. Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Being a servant means we don’t get upset when someone is in our seat on Sunday morning and are gladly willing to give it up so someone else will have a seat. It means that we gladly accommodate visitors by letting them have our parking spots or sitting in the balcony so that they won’t have to. It means that we are cook meals for members of our Sunday School class when they are sick. It means that we work in the nursery and children’s ministry and don’t complain about it. Of course, the list could go on forever but you get the point.
But being a servant is not limited to just those inside the church. Being missional means we are servants in our neighborhoods, workplaces and schools as well as in our churches. This means that we intentionally look for ways to display the love of Jesus to the people around us. We find ways to serve people and show them the gospel in action as a first step towards sharing with them what Jesus did on the cross. Go over to that neighbor and help them cut their grass or clean up their yard. Carry someone’s groceries to the car for them. Volunteer to watch a friends kids so that they can go out. Don’t do it expecting to get anything back- just serve for the sheer joy of serving Jesus. I guarantee that if you pursue a lifestyle of missional service you will get opportunities to share the gospel.