Week Two: Constancy Without Stagnation
“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” - John Wesley
Monday, September 9
From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:16-21)
Once we acknowledge that unity (staying connected, showing love, forgiving one another, supporting each other) is possible in spite of our diﬀerences, then we must ask the next obvious question: how do we work together in that unity to fulﬁll our calling as the Church?
Of course, the ﬁrst step in fulﬁlling our calling is simply acknowledging it! Our mission is not only to live in unity; we are to make disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world. As wonderful as it is for Christians to care for one another, God expects more from us than merely not ﬁghting among ourselves. In fact, most pastors know that when a congregation says their greatest strength is how much they love one another, that church is probably in decline. “We love one another” is often code language for “we focus our time, energy, and aﬀection inwardly instead of reaching out to others in the community.”
Unity is a gift we should enjoy, but it is not our only goal. It is just the beginning! Unity is the foundation on which we stand to transform the world. Forgiven by God, inspired by Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, Christians are to live together in such a way that others are encouraged to choose Jesus as Lord. We accomplish our mission by introducing others to Christ, supporting them as they grow, and encouraging them to use their God-given gifts.
Our calling to make disciples is worthy of our lives — but that doesn’t mean it is easy to accomplish! In fact, it is quite diﬃcult! There is a reason those “warm and loving,” inwardlyfocused churches choose that path. It requires much less work to focus on our own comfort than to face the challenges of growing and oﬀering the love of Christ to new folks.
• If the mission of the Church is to make disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world, what does the phrase “make disciples” mean to you? Does it refer to making new disciples (evangelism) or helping people grow more and more in their faith and service (discipleship)?
• If the world is to be “transformed” in the way God desires, what needs to change?
• What are some of our congregation’s greatest strengths? Are we more of an inwardlyfocused church, an outwardly-focused church, or fairly balanced between the two?
• What is the relationship between individuals’ transformation and the church’s transformation?