The Bridge – December 7, 2012
Posted on December 7, 2012 by under Outreach and Missions,

Does Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and world missions need to change as we continue to become a 167 church?

For years, HRC has used Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth,” has been the text that has led us in our mission programs.  As we wrestle as a congregation and as individuals around what it is to be 167 Living church and a 167 Living Christian, corporate and personal mission become central to this life style and we are called to wrestle with how we live out missions at HRC and in our lives.

To begin with, I could never see a need to not use Acts 1:8 to direct our missions.  I think it does a great job telling us where to go, but what else does it tell us about what to do when we get there?  I have always believed there are folks called to focus on all aspects of the world in mission (the world, Samaria, Judea, and our own Jerusalem).  Together, the body fulfills God’s call.  But, again, what do we do when we get there?

As I read Acts 1:8, there is one thing that leads me to the how and what of missions; the Holy Spirit will help us be a witness to the world.  In scripture, witness is sharing the facts we know and have experienced in the life and resurrection of Christ.  We might also call this evangelism.  I always hear from the two sides on this one.  “We NEED to evangelize with the good news of Christ!”  or “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.”  It is my belief, and where 167 missions take us, that both are dependent on one thing we don’t talk much about…relationships.  To preach the gospel without relationships makes God’s word fall on deaf ears.  To serve people, even in the name of Christ, outside of relationships, usually makes us feel better than the recipient.  We need to begin wrestling with what does it look like to build relationships in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the world that are deep and filled with being Christ’s hands and lifting people out of the “hell on earth” they find themselves in.  It means walking with people FOREVER…

The Greek word translated as witness in Acts 1:8 is “MARTUS”…the root also for “martyr.”  There is a sacrifice in this understanding of witness.  We often think of the sacrifice of “missionaries on the field,” but what about our own sacrifice?  Do we sacrifice our time to build relationships with those we serve?  Do we sacrifice our money (give until it hurts a bit) to support those in places we can’t build relationships?  Do we sacrifice our pride in these relationships and actually tell them our Jesus stories?  As a 167 Christian, do I live as a martyr sacrificing my needs to build relationships deep enough and long enough that the words I speak and the actions I do can be used by the Holy Spirit to really affect these people’s lives?

I believe we need to keep wrestling with our mission programs.  We, however, will only move from HRC having a great mission program to being a church living 167 mission when we stop thinking about programs and start looking for the multiple opportunities the Spirit leads us into every day, in Dutchess County and around the world, to sacrificially enter into relationships with those who break God’s heart.  We know the where.  Programs are a start to the what.  The question we need to answer is, “Are we willing as a church, and am I willing, as a 167 Christian, to MARTUS the grace of God as I become a MARTYR in the lives of those who need Christ’s grace?

Until Next Time…Mark