“Go therefore to every ethnic group and help them become my apprentices.”

The assumption of Jesus early program for his people on earth was that they would live their lives as his students and co-labourers. They would find him so admirable in every respect- wise, beautiful, powerful and good- that they would seek to be in his presence and be guided, instructed and helped by him in every aspect of their lives. He is the living head of the community of prayerful love across all time and space. On that assumption, his promises to his people were that he would be with them in every moment. More generally, the provisions that he made for his people during this period in which we now live are provisions for those who are precisely apprentices to him in kingdom living.

The effect of continuous study under Jesus would naturally be to learn how to do everything we do in the name of Jesus (Col. 3:17); that is, on his behalf or in his place; that is, once again as if he himself were doing it. And of course, that means we will learn to conform to “everything I have commanded you (Matt. 28:20). In his presence our inner life will be transformed, and we will become the kind of people for whom his course of action is the natural and supernatural course of action. Plainly in the eyes of Jesus there is no good reason for not doing what he said to do, for he only tells us to do what is best.

Grace and peace from Marcus
Taken from the Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Williard

In John’s first letter- he marvels at the love that God has for us in Christ. 1 John 3:1 is the high watermark of the revelation of God’s love by John- he says; “See what great love the father lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” God’s love for him and indeed for every believer is almost overwhelming for John. He is it seems, delighted by it. But it should be noted that John is keen that the experience of that love is not something that he dams up- or anticipates believers hoarding to themselves. Far from it- his hope is that that love will overflow into the lives of others. He puts this notion succinctly when he says- “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for one another. John believes deeply in the notion that any love received from God in the life of the believer is to passed on and given away, in practical and tangible ways. It’s as if the fullness of God’s love empowers those in Christ to love others and for John that has practical implications. So he says- again in chapter 3, “dear children, let us not love with Words or tongue but in actions and in truth.” So all that to say, lets marvel at and delight in the love God has for us- and out of that let’s love those around us like he loves us.

Grace and peace from Marcus

"With minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do" (1 Peter 1:13-15)

Peter has just opened his letter telling believers in Christ of the wonder and scope of their salvation. Now he calls them to align their minds with their new gospel centred identity. They are recipients of such wonderful grace and provision. Indeed what they have in Christ is something that angelic beings marvel at, something that the prophets of old longed to see. Therefore, they are to prepare their minds for action- what kind of action?

Well, Peter says they are to set their minds on becoming holy, just as God is. Far from their salvation, the grace showed to them, being a catalyst for apathy and laziness, instead it is seen by Peter as reason to pursue holiness, to pursue godliness. The saving grace of God in Christ has opened a door to new possibilities and so Peter says discipline your minds, prepare them for action- pursue holiness. What is the state of your mind, are you prepared? God has done so much for us- let us live into what he has already won.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:3-5)

Transformation and thought are very closely related in the New Testament. Our minds are the seedbeds of our behaviour. This is important and this is why the Christian church has always valued teaching because we recognise that the mind matters. But the kind of mind that we are shooting for, as those in Christ, is the mind of the Spirit. That is a mind soaked in the heart and the reality of the Spirit of God. The passage above gives us one aspect of what a Spirit filled mind looks like. So what does it look like?

Well the Spirit soaked mind is drenched in the self-effacing love that was supremely demonstrated in Christ. It’s the mindset that is not just about me, me, me, but it is always asking how am I living out the new commandment (John 13:34-35) that Jesus gave in my relationships with others. Paul in Philippi was writing to a church he loved and he knew that there was some conflict. Euodia and Syntyche were two women in the church who seemed to have been in some disagreement and Paul summons them to have the same mind in the Lord. What mind? To have the mind of the Spirit, of Christ, this is the mind of self-effacing sacrificial love. May the mind of the Spirit govern us as believers.

Grace and peace from Marcus

Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Praise the LORD; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvellous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all. (Psalm 96:1-5)

Chris Wright in his book ‘The Mission of God’s People’ said, “Mission was not made for the church; the church was made for mission, God’s mission.” It’s May Missions Month again. It is a time when we as a Baptist Church focus on missions in a special way. Perhaps it’s also a time in which we ask what is the mission of God’s ‘propelled outwards’ people?

The answer to this question must be that the mission belongs to God. God’s mission is for all creation, a purpose for all that he has made. He has chosen to call into existence a people who will participate with him in accomplishing his mission. Mission arises from the heartbeat of a God who is on a mission.

Mission is about God means He is the one who owns the mission, inspires and sustains his mission in the world. He is the one who will ultimately bring about its completion. So in this May Mission Month, let’s ask; “what is God’s mission and what is my place in it, what is our church’s place in it?” In what ways can I truly become a ‘sent one’? So inspired by nothing less than the mission of God in his world, so that everything in me wants to know and engage in the Mission of God?

Grace and peace from Marcus