Craig Smith - Why Evangelism is Not a Four-Letter Word?
Well, hey, welcome to Mission Hills and this historic, historic moment, where for the first time in our 78-year history as a church, we are all gathering together live on campus rather than…or I’m sorry, live online rather than live on a campus. I know a lot of you join us every single week through our Online Campus, that’s awesome. Wherever you are in the world we consider you part of the Mission Hills family. It’s so good, actually, for all of us to be able to kinda gather together in the same space, live online right now.
And at…if you don’t know – my guess is, a lot of you do – but if you don’t know the reason that we’re doing that this weekend, is because we’re working really hard to care for our community and to cooperate with our government as they attempt to limit the spread of this Coronavirus thing, and so we’re all gathering together live online this weekend. We’ve suspended live, in-person, on-campus gatherings until we get the all clear, but I want you to know that’s all we’ve done. All we’ve done is suspend the live, on-campus gatherings. We haven’t canceled church, okay?
I actually got a whole buncha emails this past week from people going, “Are we canceling church?” I got texts, “Are we canceling church?” And I’m like, “You can’t cancel church.” As we say all the time here at Mission Hills, church isn’t a building we come to, it’s not a program we participate in, church is the people of God engaged in the mission of God, and you can’t cancel us, you can’t cancel the church. And so, you know, here, let us just do this – wherever you happen to be, maybe some of you in a coffee shop and this might be gettin’ a little bit weird for you, and maybe some of you are by yourself, it might feel weird.
Maybe you got a group of people around you. Well whatever it is, what we’re gonna do is, on three, I’m gonna count to three, and then we’re all gonna say together, “We are the Church” okay? Wherever you are, out loud – it’s gotta be out loud, come on – one, two, three, “We are the Church” We are the Church and it’s so, so, so important that we don’t forget that. Especially at this season, because the reality is, we have some unique opportunities in the midst of all the craziness going on with the Coronavirus.
In fact, here’s the thing – I really believe this is true – the Coronavirus hasn’t created a reason for fear, it’s created a season for a mission. It hasn’t created a reason for fear, but a season for mission. We have some unique opportunities to be on mission with Jesus right now, and more than any other time – this is always true, but it’s especially true right now – the mission and the opportunities that we have to seize those unique situations, unique circumstances for Jesus’ glory, those all are only gonna be seized because we do them. And when I say “we,” I mean us, the Church, okay?
This is always true, but it’s especially true right now. We’re not gonna seize these opportunities because the church has a program, we’re gonna seize these opportunities as the people who are the Church, okay? A lot of really unique opportunities, and I think it’s really important that we grab one of these opportunities. Here’s what’s unique about this season, right? We have good news, okay? We do. We have good news to share. In fact, our mission, really, is just this – the mission we’re talking about is to extend God’s influence in the world. That’s it. Our mission is to extend God’s influence in the world.
And the way we do that is by sharing the good news that we have. It’s by the good news that we have received, we’re gonna repeat that to others. That’s our primary tool for extending God’s influence in the world. Now, what is our mission? Well, we’ll talk about that in just a second, but here’s the important thing I want you to make sure you don’t miss right now, and it’s this – is that this good news that we have is going to sound like even better news right now to a whole lotta people. And here’s why – this is a really important truth, Church – good news gets even better when things are bad. Okay?
Good news gets even better when things are bad, right? That’s the reason why the Church is always grown furthest and fastest during those seasons when things were hard for people. Because reality is, when things going really well, a lotta people kinda lose track of the good news, honestly, right? I mean, when you’re just getting good news about your job, or you’re getting good news about your health, or good news about your kids, or good news about a relationship, or good news about the economy, or good news about the stock market, or whatever it is, when you’re getting good news, sometimes the good news of the Gospel can actually kinda fade into the background. It’s a tragedy, but it’s absolutely true, it absolutely happens.
But when things are bad, right? Suddenly the good news shines out all the brighter. And that’s why I say that good news gets even better when things are bad. And we are living in a season right now where there’s a whole lotta people around you who are really, really anxious for some good news because they’re tired of all the bad news, okay? Really, really, really need to take these opportunities to shine this good news right in the season when it’s gonna be most understood for exactly what it is. Right? And who doesn’t like sharing good news, right? Who doesn’t like sharing good news?
I mean, think about this, you find an amazing taco shop, what’s the first thing you do? You tell people about it, right? You go tell people about the taco shop. You be like, “It’s an amazing taco shop, they have amazing tacos.” And you don’t worry about what people think when you’re sharing that good news with them, right? I mean, I’ve never heard anybody go, “I don’t know. Like, what if they think I’m weird for liking those tacos? Or what if they think that, you know, just liking tacos of any kind is weird? What if they reject my taco shop? What if they won’t even try my taco shop? What if they do go to the taco shop but they didn’t really like the tacos there?”
“That would be terrible. What if I offend them because, you know, they’re really into burritos? And so I’m bringing tacos in, and maybe they’ll be ready offended. Or what if, what if – what if I’m so bad about sharing the good news about my taco shop that they decide that they don’t want anything to do with tacos ever again for as long as they live,” right?
We don’t do that. We just go, “Hey, I got good news. I don’t really care, honestly, what you do with it, but I gotta tell you about it,” right? We share good news, we love sharing good news. Which I think is what makes it so strange to me that so many followers of Jesus are hesitant to share the good news, the great news that we have of Jesus Christ. Of the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus and everything that that means for us. We’re hesitant to do that. In fact, Barna Research Group last year did a big study and what they found kinda stunned me, blew my mind.
What we found out was that 31% of all adult Christians, 31%, believe that it is wrong – not uncomfortable, not that it makes them nervous – they believe that it is wrong to share their faith with another person in the hopes that that person will come to share their faith. They think it’s wrong. It’s almost like the word “evangelism,” which is really just sharing of that good news of the Gospel, it’s almost like evangelism has become a bad word. Why is that? What’s happened? Here’s what I think – I think that for a lot of us we seem to think that sharing the good news of Jesus actually starts with sharing bad news.
That’s what I think has happened to a lot of us. We think that sharing the good news of Jesus actually has to begin with sharing bad news. Like we have to begin by sharing, “Hey, you know, I know you have faith in Buddhism, or you have faith in Islam. But you know what? That faith isn’t gonna save you,” and so we have to give them the bad news that their faith isn’t right. Or maybe we have to give ’em the bad news that their atheism is wrong, or maybe we have to start with the bad news that they’re not good enough on their own to make it into heaven, and we think we have to start there. We think we have to start with the bad news.
And nobody love…nobody, you know, hesitates to share good news but we really always hesitate to share bad news. Nobody wants to do that. And so of course if we think that sharing the good news of Jesus begins with sharing bad news, of course we’re going to be hesitant. But is that where it has to start? Is that really where sharing the Gospel begins? I don’t think so. Actually, I know it’s not because that’s not where Jesus started. And why don’t you go ahead and grab a Bible? We’re gonna be in the Gospel of Matthew today, Chapter 6 starting in verse 35.
Now as you’re making your way there…I’m sorry, Matthew Chapter 9, verse 35. If you’re kinda new to the Bible, Matthew is one of four books in the Bible called the Gospels. It’s the good news books, the four books that tell the good news of the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And Matthew Chapter 9, verse 35 says this – this is from early in Jesus’ ministry – says, “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.” Healing every disease and sickness.
Couple things I wanna point out. First one is just that it says that “he came preaching good news,” okay? Good news. Now, as many of you may know, this may be news to some of you, but the Bible wasn’t originally written in English. Matthew wasn’t originally written as English, it was written in Greek. It was the most common language in the ancient world. And in Greek, the…there is a word for “good news,” and I’m gonna throw it up in Greek, we’re gonna throw up…this is the Greek letter and it’s gonna look a little bit strange, it looks like this, and in the way you say that is “εὐαγγέλιον,” okay?
Now, just bear with me for a second, and some of you are gonna love this and some of you are gonna be like, “What is happening?” This is gonna be kinda cool. That’s the Greek word for “good news,” εὐαγγέλιον. Now, if we transliterate all the letters from Greek into the Latin letters, which is what English still uses, it’s gonna look like this. Can we drop that up? Okay, it looks like “εvαγγέλιον,” that “U” lookin’ thing, an upsilon, turned into a “V” lookin’ thing, or a “V” because that’s what we use it in English, so εὐαγγέλιον turns into “εvαγγέλιον.” And here’s another interesting thing that happens – in Greek when you got two “G” sounds together, one of them turns into an “N” sound, which becomes “εvαnγγέλιον.”
Now if that looks familiar – it should – because that’s the root of our word “evangelism,” and it literally just means “telling good news,” okay? So evangelism is “telling someone good news.” That’s all it is. Evangelism is telling someone good news. Now, good news of what? What does Jesus say? It says, “Jesus went through all the towns and the villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom,” right? It’s the good news of the kingdom. Now, we don’t talk a lot about kingdoms today, right? We talk about nations, we talk about countries, and there’s a big difference between nations and kingdoms, right?
Okay, you know, nations are places where people live, kingdoms are where kings reign. That’s what a kingdom is. It’s where the king reigns. In fact, let’s say it this way – a kingdom is the place and the people under a king’s reign, under his rule, under his authority, under his influence. That’s what a kingdom is. And Jesus came proclaiming the good news of the kingdom – meaning, of God’s kingdom. Okay? Now, here’s the interesting thing – that was good news because the world hasn’t…had not been experiencing God’s reign for a long time.
And some of you might go, “Well what are you talking about? I thought got reigned over everything. I thought God was the sovereign King of the whole universe,” right? And yes – but also, no. I mean, yes, God is the sovereign King over all things, he absolutely is. But God, in his humility – and I know that might seem like a strange word to use for God, but I don’t know how else to describe it – God, in his humility, chooses not to exercise that authority on people who have rejected it. Let me say that again. God, in his humility, chooses not to exercise his authority on people who have rejected us…it.
And that leads us to the…kinda the big picture story of the whole Bible, okay? I’m gonna summarize the entire Bible in three simple points. The first one is just this – God created us to live in his kingdom where everything was good, okay? That was the plan. God created us to live in his kingdom, under his reign, where everything was good, because God is good, so, of course, life under God’s reign is going to be good for us in every respect. There was nothing unhappy, there was nothing sick, there was nothing dying, there was no pain, there was no suffering – it was all good.
It was all meaning, and significance, and hope, and joy, and all those things, okay? God created us to live in his kingdom where everything was good. But, we rebelled. This is the point in number two, we rebelled against God’s good influence, and everything went had. We rebelled against God’s good influence, and everything went bad. That’s when sickness, and disease, and death, and despair, and hopelessness, and pain, and struggle, and suffering – that’s when all of it came in, because all those things, that we have a word for them, and that word is “evil.” But understand, evil is not a thing, evil is actually an absence of good. Right?
In same way that dark is just the absence of light, evil is the absence of good, and so what happened is, Adam and Eve and every human being since then – you and I too, we all do it – we basically, we rejected God’s authority over us. his reign. And we’ve said, “Hey, God, I appreciate the life and everything, but I think I’ll take it from here. From now on, I’ll call the shots for my own life.” And so we have rebelled, we have rejected God’s good influence, and into that gap moved in all this bad stuff, okay?
But, and this is point number three, God kept loving us. In spite of our rebellion, God kept loving us, so he’s bringing the kingdom back into the world. That’s the good news. God kept loving us, so he is bringing the kingdom back into the world. Now I want you to notice what Jesus did when he came proclaiming that good news. It says, “Jesus went through all the towns and the villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.” And healing every disease and sickness. It’s so interesting, right?
So basically, what…we pushed God’s influence out of the world, and sickness and death and all that bad stuff began to move into that space, and when Jesus came announcing that the kingdom was coming back into the world, Jesus began to push all that bad stuff back out. That’s what he’s doing. He’s healing every or every kind of disease and sickness. He’s giving the people a taste of what life under the reign of God is supposed to look like. Right? Now, notice he didn’t start by telling people, “Hey, you really understand that the reason you have sickness? Do you know that the reason that there is disease around, you know it’s because you’re sinful?”
He didn’t start there. Right? What Jesus did was, he started with the good news of the kingdom and with healing, because listen, Jesus started with good news, because they already knew the bad news. They already knew the bad news. They already knew what life was like apart from the kingdom. And they may not have understood why it was like that, but they knew what it was like. There was no question in their minds that things were bad, right? So Jesus was able to start with the good news because they already knew the bad news.
Now, I’ve got a radical thought. It’s a radical idea, I know this is gonna blow your minds, but what if…what if we did what Jesus did? What if you just followed his example? And what if we started by sharing good news with people who kinda knew the bad news already? The people who are kinda looking around, goin’, “This is hard. Life is difficult. There is all this pain and all these bad things and this uncertainty, and I just don’t understand. Is this how life is supposed to be? It doesn’t feel like it. It doesn’t feel like life is supposed to be like this. Is this how life was supposed to be?”
And what if, for those people, we said, “Hey, it’s not. Life isn’t supposed to be like that. You’re right – life isn’t supposed to be like this. And God’s doing something about it”? What if that’s where we started? Because that’s where Jesus started. What if that’s where we started? What if we said to those people who knew how hard life was, “Hey, here’s the good news – life isn’t supposed to be like this. But God is doing something about it”? That’s evangelism. That’s sharing the good news. It’s sharing the good news with people who already know the bad news, “Hey, you’re right, life isn’t supposed to be like this, but God is doing something about it.”
Now you might go, “Well hang on a second, I…it feels kinda soft. I mean, where is the sin business? Where do we talk about that?” And listen, don’t get me wrong, we have to deal with sin at some point, because the reality is that the world is the way it is because of our sin, okay? It’s the cause of our rebelling against God. And the truth of the matter is that nobody can ever fully experience life as God intended it until they do a few things. Number one, they have to acknowledge that they are sinful, okay?
They have to repent of it, they have to be willing to turn from it, and they have to accept the gift of forgiveness that Jesus purchased for us on the cross. They have to say yes to a relationship with him. And so at some point we all have to deal with sin if we’re going to come into a relationship with God and experience life as he intended it. But do we have to start there? Because it’s interesting, that’s not where Jesus typically started. He typically started with people who knew the bad news, and said, “Hey, life isn’t supposed to be like this, and God is doing something about it.”
Check this out, this is what Jesus was motivated by, it says this, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd.” Jesus wasn’t motivated by a desire to convince them that they were sinful, he was motivated by compassion to set them free from a life that God never intended them to live. He says, “They were harassed and harried” – I love this – “they were harassed and harried like sheep without a shepherd.”
Now I don’t know if you know anything about sheep, but sheep without shepherds, they’re not happy. They’re not experiencing the good life. Sheep need shepherds. Actually, I ran across this story not long ago, a friend of the…mine shared it with me. It’s a story about a sheep in New Zealand, his name was Shrek, Shrek the sheep, and he managed to get out of his pen, and he managed to sorta get away from the shepherd, and they couldn’t find him. He actually lived on his own for six years before they finally found the sheep.
And so, six years of living free of that cruel and mean shepherd who was always, you know, controlling him, and bossing him around, and telling him what to do. Six years he had that…this blissful freedom from that shepherd, and this is what Shrek looked like when they found him. Can we throw that picture up there? How crazy is that? I mean, that’s insane, right? That’s not a happy sheep. There is no possible way that’s a happy sheep, right? I mean, he can’t see. He can hardly see anything, he can only see the ground right in front of his feet, right? You can’t see what’s coming, he can’t look to the horizon, he can’t see, he can hardly walk. Right?
He’s a sitting duck for any predator that comes after him, he’s got all kinds of nasty stuff stuck to him. That’s not a happy sheep. But that’s what Jesus is talking about, that’s a sheep without a shepherd. That’s us living out from under the reign of a good and kind King. So listen, that’s what motivated Jesus, and it’s what has to motivate us. Evangelism has to be motivated by compassion. It has to be. It has to be motivated by compassion. And chances are pretty good that if evangelism sounds like a bad word to you, that if evangelism is a word that just makes you really uncomfortable, it’s probably because you have heard somebody share what they called good news, but they weren’t driven by compassion, they were driven by contempt.
They were driven by contempt for the people. Chances are, if you have a negative association with evangelism it’s because you’ve seen people doing it from contempt rather than compassion. It’s gotta be driven by compassion. You know, a couple years ago we entered into a season of prayer here at Mission Hills praying for God’s vision for the future of the church. And God doesn’t usually work this way with me, but an interesting thing happened. I was on the highway and the vision came to me.
Like, it just kinda fell into my head fully formed, that’s not the normal way God interacts with me, but I took that vision back to my executive team and we prayed about it for a while, and we said, “I think we need to go to the elder team.” We went to the elder team and we entered into a season of prayer around that particular vision, and the team decided unanimously that this was a vision from God, and the visual…we call it…is the “Front Range Vision” and Front Range Vision is to reach every lost person in the Front Range. To reach every lost person in the Front Range. And I’ll be honest, we wrestled a little bit with whether or not we should use the word “lost.”
We thought, well, that could come across negative or weird, but we chose to use it because it’s just a deeply biblical term. It’s a term that actually evokes compassion. For me at least, it’s compassion, because it’s about caring about those people who are living life outside of the reign of a good and kind and a loving God. I was actually on the highway, as I said, when that came to me, and I was on the highway and I was stuck in traffic. And I’m going to be honest – like, God and I don’t get close when I’m in traffic. I’m not a good Christian when I’m in traffic, I’m just going to be honest with you about that.
And this was a little bit of a different day, though, for me. I was in traffic, and we were kinda stuck at a standstill, and I was sorta looking around, and I don’t know, God, I think, began to move. And I was kinda looking in windows of cars and I was spyin’ on people, and I was noticing that there was just a lotta what looked like misery to me. There’s just a lotta people, they were tense, and they were anxious, they were upset, they just seemed really kinda on edge, and I felt like the Holy Spirit began to speak to me and say, “Hey, that’s not just because of the traffic situation. That’s life apart from the Kingdom of God. That’s what it’s like to live outside God’s reign and his rule.”
I really felt like the Holy Spirit began to say, “This is what it looks like for people to be harassed and harried like sheep without a shepherd.” And it was in that moment that this vision came to me, that we would be used by God to reach every lost person in the Front Range. It was driven by compassion for those people. Some of you may remember a few weeks ago I shared that we have a big dream for this year for 2020, it’s a big dream that’s gonna have…help us to make a big step towards that Front Range Vision, and the dream is that we would see 2020 people say yes to Jesus in this year. And I know that that sounds like a big number, and maybe even more importantly, it is a number.
And a number can sound kinda cold, a number can sound kinda corporate, but here is the way I see it: every number has a name, every name has a story, every story has an ending, and every ending has a sequel. Meaning, every story that comes to an end at death, and we’re all gonna face that at some point, every one of those stories has a sequel. It’s either gonna be spent in a relationship with God under a good King’s rule and reign, experiencing joy, and peace, and in happiness, and all those great things, forever. Or it’s going to be spent like a sheep without a shepherd, harassed and harried. Forever. Apart from a relationship with a good and loving God.
Every number has a name, every name has a story, every story has an ending, every ending has a sequel. And so this dream of seeing 2020 people say yes to Jesus, it’s all, 100%, it’s driven by compassion for people. And that’s what has to drive evangelism, it has to be driven by compassion. Check this out, Jesus said this, he said…and then he said to his disciples, this is verse 37, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Meaning, there’s way more people who need to hear, then, the good news than there are people actually giving the good news. Actually sharing the good news. So he said this, he said, “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field. He said pray that God would raise up more people to share with all those who need to hear the good news, that life isn’t supposed to be like this, and God is doing something about it. And can I just tell ya’ that’s a sneaky prayer? Jesus just pulled a fast one there. Let me tell ya’ how that played out in my life – he snookered me, he got me in. Right? There is a certain season in my life where I was on the road a lot, there was a big book out that was makin’ a big splash, and some of you may remember it, it was called “The Da Vinci Code.”
A really interesting book, a lot of people reading the book, and it raised some significant questions about the reliability of the Bible, the identity of Jesus, and so I was being invited all over the country to speak and give Christians the answers to the questions people were asking. So I was doin’ that, and in about that season I also…I read this verse, and I felt this huge weight of relief, because, you know, I kinda grew up in a Christian environment and I was part of some ministries early in my life that were really big on doing evangelism, and I was never comfortable with it.
I was kinda shy, and so meeting a stranger and just talkin’ to him, that was a little bit weird. And then, you know, trying to share the good news, which always seemed to start with bad news about how they were wrong and sinful, that was hard. And so I’ve always felt a little bit of a guilt around evangelism, and maybe you have felt exactly the same thing, and I read this verse and I had this huge sense of relief. I was like, “Holy cow, Jesus doesn’t say that I have to share the good news, he just says that I have to pray that God would raise up people to share the good news. I can do that.” I was like, “Aww, that’s so good,” and so I decided to lean into this.
And so like I said, I was on the road speaking the subject about the time that I was leaning into this, and so I started doing this. I was like, “Okay, when I’m on the plane, when people sit next to me, I’m going to pray that for ’em.” And so I’d sit down on the plane and people would sit down next to me, and I…in my head I’d go,” Hey, Lord, I don’t know if this person knows you, but would you raise up somebody to share the good news with them?” And I felt really good about that, it was awesome.
And then I’d…you know, I’d get “The DaVinci Code” out, I’d get my laptop goin’ so I could work on my presentation for that next speaking engagement, and this is what started to happen over and over again – I’d get the book out and people would go, “Hey, are you readin’ that book? What do you think about that?” And I’d go,” Well, I…you know, I…I mean, it’s a good read, it’s a good story, but, you know, he got his facts wrong about Jesus in the Bible.” And they would go, “What do you mean? He got his facts wrong? Well what do you mean?” I was like, “I mean, are you asking me what the truth is about who Jesus is in the Bible?” And they were like, “Yeah, tell me.” And I was like, “Okay, Jesus, I see what you did there. I see.”
It’s a sneaky prayer. He says, “Ask the Lord of the harvest to raise up workers,” right? But the thing is, and I’ve discovered this over and over again in my life, the moment that I start asking for God to raise up people to do something, is the moment the Holy Spirit begins to kinda poke me and go, “Any possibility that you might be one of those people that He’s trying to raise up? I’m just sayin’, right?” It’s a sneaky prayer – but it’s so important. Jesus is kinda working every possible angle to get us ready to embrace this incredible opportunity we have.
Listen, we, you and I, we’re followers of Jesus, we are supposed to share the good news with people who already know that life isn’t supposed to be like this. We don’t have to convince ’em of that. We get to tell ’em the good news that God’s doing something about it. But we are supposed to be sharing the good news with people who already know that life isn’t supposed to be like this. So important. And listen to me, we’re in a very unique season. We’re in a unique season where people are feeling harassed and harried.
They’ve been to the supermarkets, they’re worried about getting the disease, they’re worried about how they’re gonna pay their bills, they’re worried about what they’re gonna do when they…when their kids are at home but they’ve gotta go to work and they depend on every paycheck. They’re worried about those things, they’re feeling harassed and harried, there’s just no way to miss it, and that provides a tremendous opportunity for us to speak the good news. This is why I say this isn’t a reason for fear, this is a reason, or this is a season for mission.
You are surrounded by people who are pretty anxious for some good news right about now, and you have it to give to them. So what’s stopping you? They already know, they already feel, they already sense life isn’t supposed to be like this. You get to tell ’em, “You’re right. And God is doing something about it. He loves you so much, He sent his own son to die for you. Three days later he rose from the dead, that’s a fact of history, and he’s offering you forgiveness and eternal life under the rule of a good and kind King. It’s eternal life that begins now, it changes life now, and for forever.”
You get to share that good news. So how do we do it? We’re gonna lean into that next weekend, okay? Next weekend we’re gonna talk about how to share the Gospel in a way that honors God, feels natural, and is authentically compassionate for the people that we’re talking to. So we’re gonna lean into that next week. But before we do that, I wanna to make sure that we don’t miss some of the opportunities we’re gonna have this week, and so I wanna talk just a little bit about some unique ways that we can begin being the good news that we have to share.
In fact, actually what I wanna do right now is, I actually wanna share a little bit of a news clip. I came across this news clip this morning, some of the staff sent it to me, it’s about a young woman in Highlands Ranch and she’s doing an amazing job of being on mission in this particular season. I want you watch this clip with me.
Pastor Craig: Tell me that’s not awesome. So excited when I saw that, and I’m going to be honest, it was just a little more excited…I woulda been excited no matter who that was but I’m just a little bit more excited than I would have otherwise been because she’s one of us. She’s part of Mission Hills. And in fact, I think we have her here. Lexie, would you come on out and join me? Super, super proud of you, girl. This is fantastic. I didn’t know your name was Alexa.
Pastor Craig: I’ve only known you as Lexie. So proud of you.
Alexa: Thank you.
Pastor Craig: It’s awesome the way you’re…
Alexa: Thank you.
Pastor Craig: …taken this opportunity to be on mission with Jesus. I just wanna ask you a couple real good questions, okay?
Alexa: Yes, uh-huh.
Pastor Craig: So question number one, how long have you been following Jesus?
Alexa: I’ve been following Jesus for about a year now.
Pastor Craig: About a year now. How did that happen? Where were you? When did it happen?
Alexa: Yeah, I actually had a mentor of mine who invited me over to Mission Hills to a service after a long break away from my faith, and from then I just haven’t left.
Pastor Craig: So you said yes to Jesus right here?
Alexa: Yeah. And I actually got baptized a little…about a year ago to the day.
Pastor Craig: I know, and my wife actually was one of the ones who did the baptism interview with you and she saw you on the news, so she’s like, “That’s awesome.”
Pastor Craig: Like, we just love the fact that not only are you becoming like Jesus, but you’re joining him on mission. And we’re all about that here, right? So let me ask you this question, what motivated you to be on mission with Jesus in this particular way?
Alexa: I guess I saw a need in our community, so I saw schools were shutting down, I saw everything was closing, and I thought, “Oh my gosh, like, these families, these kids are gonna be without groceries.” The kids who rely on the free and reduced lunches. So I just saw a need and I thought, you know, if I could rally a few community members, that would be awesome. If I could rally a handful, that would be awesome. But yeah, I just saw a need and I kind of decided to step in, along with some amazing community members, so yeah.
Pastor Craig: So would it be fair to say you are motivated by compassion?
Pastor Craig: Yeah. Okay, I got one more question for you.
Pastor Craig: Okay, are you rich?
Pastor Craig: You don’t have just, like, a ton of money that you’re like, “Oh my gosh, I can just buy all these groceries because, like, I have limitless finances.” You’re not rich?
Pastor Craig: So you’re being generous with the little that you have, would that be fair to say?
Pastor Craig: I know you don’t wanna say that about yourself, but that’s the truth, and we love that. For the last few weeks we’ve been talking about being generous, and I just love that, you know, you’re not necessarily somebody with a tremendous number of resources, but you’re using those resources to be on mission with Jesus and caring for people. It’s fantastic. I have a little bit of a gift for you, if that’s okay?
Pastor Craig We heard that you were doin’ this and we put together a little bit of a gift from Mission Hills. I’m going to go ahead and give this to you, you can go ahead and open it right now.
Pastor Craig: This isn’t really a gift, actually. The better way to say this would be that probably this is an investment in you, who are being on mission with Jesus. So I wasn’t able to quite get the check together real fast, but we’re gonna make a substantial investment in you, because you are living on mission with Jesus…
Pastor Craig: …and we are so proud of you.
Alexa: Ohh, Oh my gosh.
Pastor Craig: Lexie, you are somebody who understands what more is for, and in…
Alexa: Are you serious?
Pastor Craig: And we’re absolutely serious.
Pastor Craig: And we know, because we know you’re going to use that to honor God, you’re going to use that to extend God’s influence, and you’re going to use that to make a difference in people’s lives. It’s a privilege to be able to do that. We’re so, so proud of you.
Alexa: Thank you.
Pastor Craig: You’re welcome, thank you…
Alexa: Thank you.
Pastor Craig: …for being on mission with Jesus.
Alexa: Thank you.
Pastor Craig: Yeah, you’re welcome.
Alexa: Thank you, guys.
Pastor Craig: You’re welcome. Man, I’m just…I love that. I love that. We can’t do that for everybody, but as Andy Stanley says, “Do for one what you wish you could do for many.” And it’s not a gift, it’s an investment. She understands what more is for, she is using it to be on mission with Jesus for people who are not. Struggling to figure out the bad news, but they desperately need to hear the good news – it’s not supposed to be like this, but God is doing something about it. And he’s doing something about it right here, right now, through his people.
And so I just got one big question for you, Mission Hills, how can you…? Just ask yourself this question – how can I be the good news? How can I be the good news that I wanna share with someone who knows that life’s hard right now? How can you be the good news that you want to share with someone who’s not struggling to understand that life apart from God’s rule and his reign is bad? How can you do that? Let me give you something really practical you can do during this season of the Coronavirus, you can go to missionhills.org/care.
Our communications team, our outreach team, a team of people have just done an unbelievable work… I am absolutely blown away by the team that I get to work with, they have been scrambling for the last 24 hours to figure out the communications around this whole, you know, canceling on-campus live gatherings and gettin’ the word out. And in the midst of all that, we asked them, “Hey, could you help us figure out a way that we can mobilize people to be on mission with Jesus and to seize these unique opportunities?” And they did it. They pulled it off and they…like, they went so far above and beyond my expectations, I can’t even begin to tell you.
But what you’re gonna find when you go to that website is, there is a couple things you can do. First off, if you have a need, right? Maybe you’re finding yourself struggling with food, or financially you’re struggling, or there’s some kind of a need, you can actually let us know about that need. And over time, it’s not there yet, but as those needs get posted in there, they’ll actually appear on the page, and as followers of Jesus, you’re going to be able to click on one of those, you’re going to go, “I can do that. I can meet that need,” and you’ll get all the information you need to meet that very specific need.
Maybe somebody says, “Hey, I need a crib,” or somebody says, “Yeah, I need some bread or some groceries or whatever it is.” Whatever it is, you’re going to be able to go, “Oh, I can do that,” and they’re going to tell you exactly how to do that. You’ll also find in that page the opportunity to contribute goods, canned goods, bread, eggs, some of those kinds of things, to our food bank at the Life Center in downtown Littleton. And by the way, we’re going to be extending the reach of the Life Center, maybe even to Highlands Ranch, as people find themselves in need because of this Coronavirus and those sorta situations.
So, I really wanna encourage you just to go to missionhills.org/care, and either let us know about a need, or say, “I’m going to be on mission with Jesus, meeting that particular need.” Okay? So how can you be the good news? How can you be the good news that you wanna share with somebody that already knows about the bad news? I really wanna encourage you to do that. Second thing I’m gonna ask you to ask yourself is this, “Am I willing to pray Jesus’ very sneaky prayer?” Are ya’? It’s a sneaky prayer. I told you why it was sneaky, right? Because he’s gonna hook you in.
You’re gonna say, “Hey, God, I need you to do this, and he’s gonna go, “Yeah, definitely gonna do that, but I think maybe we oughta start with you.” Are you willing to pray his very sneaky prayer of, “God, hey, would you raise up people to share the good news that life isn’t supposed to be like this. But God is doing something about it”? You have good news. You have unique opportunities in this season, Mission Hills. Wherever you are in the world, wherever you are in the world, you have unique opportunities this season. Coronavirus is not a reason for fear, it is a season for mission – be on mission with Jesus. Would you pray with me?
God, thank you for the good news, and we’re surrounded by things that we look at and we go, “Yeah, it’s not good. Life is hard. It’s even bad. But Lord, you’ve done something about it. And you’ve given us the privilege of sharing that good news with others.” Lord, give us the courage to do it. It’s good news, we shouldn’t even be hesitant to let us follow your Son’s example of sharing good news with people who already know the bad news. Help us to be on mission. Here is a way for you to be on mission too.
If you’re a follower of Jesus, right now, wherever you are around the world, would you start praying with me? Start praying for the people who are listening to this that don’t know Jesus. They don’t know the good news of life under the reign of a good and a kind King. They’re still living harassed and harried, because maybe that’s you. Maybe you’re listening to this and you’re like, “That’s me. I didn’t know there was an alternative, I didn’t know that life wasn’t supposed to be like this.” Maybe you felt it, or maybe there is something deep inside you that said, “This just doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t feel like the way it’s supposed to be.” You’re right. It’s not. This is not what God intended. This isn’t how life is supposed to be, and God has done something about it.
He is doing something about it, he sent his own Son, lived a perfect life, he died on the cross to pay for the wrong that we’ve done, our sin. That’s what let the bad into the world, it’s what lets the bad into our lives. Jesus died to pay for it, three days later he rose from the dead and he offers you salvation by faith. By simply accepting his gift of forgiveness, by trusting in him, and putting yourself back under his rule and his reign in faith. And here’s how you do it – wherever you are, just have this conversation with God in your heart and say this, say:
God, I have done wrong. I admit it. And I’m sorry. Jesus, thank you for coming for me. Thank you for dying on the cross in my place. Thank you. I believe you rose from the dead, and that that’s what make this good news. Jesus, I need your forgiveness, I need to put myself back under your rule and reign, and so I’m saying yes to you. I’m saying yes to faith in you, I’m putting my trust in you. Jesus, come into my life. I’m yours, for now and forever. Amen.