Last night I listened to a church planting couple in the north of England describing the broken families that they are reaching with the love of Christ. The medium they use of reaching people is through ‘Messy Church’ which certainly makes their church sound messy and yet listening to them I saw Jesus and His love for a broken world. I was refreshed just listening to their hearts pour out. I can tell so many wonderful stories of lives finding Christ in these days and it is happening because the Church is moving. I think the pandemic has caused the Church to look at some home-truths and I see a fresh move of the Church joining God who has never stopped moving with love to a messed-up world.
“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God … Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes fromfaith for his name’s sake.” (Romans 1 v1 and v5)
Yesterday I wrote of Paul’s “pierced ear” which opened up a new future to him.
Paul says he was called to move, to be a sent-out one (the meaning of apostello).
But he was a doulos before he was an apostello.
He was a servant/slave before he was an apostle.
Before he was sent by God he had been to God.
This is such an important truth.
In that place of being with God you get to know His heart for this world and you begin to understand the power of the incarnation which flowed out of His incredible perfect love for people.
Being sent is a compulsion, a conviction, you just have to go.
To be an apostle is to move towards people with love for them. It is certainly not to be a CEO telling others what to do. When the church gets embroiled in the qualification of titles and who really has them or not then they begin to miss the heart of God.
As early as the 2nd century only a hundred years after Paul wrote these words, decline within the church had begun. Apostles, Prophets and Evangelists were no longer mentioned and in their place hierarchies were established of Popes, Archbishops and Bishops. The result was that mission began to die and the church began to decline. The moment we become Church-centric then we shift from being Christ-centric and as a result we stop being sent. The demands of the saved should never outweigh the burden of those who need a Saviour. Church-centric churches usually die eventually but Christ-centric churches continue to grow as they are sent out to love His world.
The apostle/sent-ones have nothing to boast about. They are not greater than anyone else. They should not walk around as if they have achieved anything. In fact Paul realises this. “Through him we received grace and apostleship …” He didn’t deserve this calling. He couldn’t boast of this mission. If the world has to wait until you feel you are more qualified or more perfected then it will die without Jesus. Being chosen didn’t mean he was a cut above the rest. It was pure grace. It still is. So let’s get moving today!