Thursday, December 22, 2011

THE CHURCH’S MISSION: TO LIVE FOR OTHERS

One simple way to measure whether you love well is to examine how you look out for the interests of others.

As a pastor, I have to forge an unwavering vision to do this. I am charged by God with a call to stir my people to action and to relentlessly pursue the mission he has given us. The truth is, I can go about this in one of two ways: through my own ambition, pushing to achieve my individual goals; or to adopt the heart of Christ and make my mission to love.

If my church grows to ten thousand and I don’t have love as my vision...if our church sends out 1,000 missionaries but doesn’t have love…then we are failing in our calling as a believing body. We are raising up false ambassadors and exporting a weak brand of watered-down Christianity empowered by something other than love.

How about you? Are your prayers or spiritual ambitions locked in a world of your own wants, needs and desires? Are you bothered or irritated when others’ genuine needs interrupt your goals?

What is the remedy for selfish ambition? Paul wrote to the Philippians, “In lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself” (Philippians 2:3b). Paul doesn’t say not to esteem yourself, your vision or your life mission. But he does say others also have vision, purpose and a mission. If you will esteem them, you will not just be helping them but also strengthening them in their calling—and perhaps affecting many lives.

Think about the power of Paul’s statement. Imagine what might happen if every Christian radically obeyed this truth. We would all have deep, world-impacting interests in others—and none of us would be immersed in our individual goals. The whole body of Christ would be so other-centered we would empower one another in our many varied callings.

If each of us is looking only to interests of our own making, our testimony will be limited at best. But if we all are looking in love to build up others, every God-ordained mission will have more than ample support to be accomplished.

That is what I call a way to live. It is a campaign I want to start today—living for, being in and serving those around me for the glory of God.