- Read Isaiah 61 here and Luke 4:16-21 here and Luke 7:22 here.
- If you missed Sunday’s sermon (4 July), you can listen to it here.
- Follow the rest of this discussion here.
This week’s thesis is, The Church of Christ must adopt the Mission of Christ.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
At his baptism, Jesus received an anointing of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit commissioned him and sent him into the world with the tasks he describes in this passage. Luke places this quote early in Jesus’ ministry so that it can function as a mission statement for the months and years to come.
Some of these tasks he accomplishes literally but others he only ever fulfills figuratively. Jesus certainly preached good news to the poor, and healed the blind. But Jesus didn’t go to any gaols and lobby for the release of prisoners. We must understand that while this mission statement has a literal application, there’s also a spiritual undertone to each of these points
The Church of Christ (along with many other churches) has often emphasised the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15-18. (One reason churches of Christ emphasise this passage, in addition to its inherent importance as the last words of Christ, is because of the central role it gives baptism.) Both accounts stress the continued presence of Christ, the importance of teaching, and the importance of belief and baptism. Matthew summarises the process by instructing the apostles to “make disciples”.
While the Great Commission must retain a position of utmost urgency within the church, we should not regard it as our only commission. The only methodology it describes of convincing people to believe and be baptised is limited to preaching and teaching. However, the church can learn much from the example of Jesus in addition to his words. Therefore, The Church of Christ must adopt the Mission of Jesus which Luke lays out in 4:16-21.
As Jesus quotes Isaiah 61 (and perhaps 58), he provides insight into both his methodology and content. On a literal level Jesus spends a lot of time with the poorer members of society, he does heal the blind and other diseases, and he proclaims the inbreaking of the kingdom of God.
From a spiritual perspective Jesus’ message of good news provides freedom for those in spiritual bondage (whether to demons or sinful lifestyles). He provides freedom and hope for those who see only hopelessness. Of course, he could also offer spiritual freedom to those who were literally slaves and prisoners.
Christians who, like Jesus, receive an anointing with the Holy Spirit at baptism have also been sent into the world with a message of good news. We are baptised, not just to be saved, but also to be sent. Our message then is not just “Repent and be baptised”, but a message of forgiveness, hope and freedom. If we adopt Jesus’ mission statement then The Church of Christ will ensure it cares for the poor, the sick and the prisoners, while not ignoring those better off members of society. We will reach out to those in bondage with the consequences of sin, addictions, and hurtful habits. Jesus preached a message of eternal consequence, but he also met people where he found them.
July 4, American Independence Day, fell upon a Sunday this year. So as I preached on this topic I concentrated on the message of freedom. I suggested that while the Good News of forgiveness through Christ frees us all from sin and the consequences of sin, many of us (perhaps even most, or all of us) also experience freedom in a practical, short term way. I asked the congregation to answer the question “What freedom has God given you?” Here are the responses:
- Free to see every day as a good day and to see God as central in all of my life.
- Freed from guilt.
- The freedom to go forward.
- God freed me from myself! He freed me from selfishness – to realize that I am not my own because Christ bought me with His blood that he shed upon the cross. (1 Cor. 6:20)
- Freedom from worry about tomorrow.
- The freedom to experience and share his love.
- I’ve been freed from a task-driven life to enjoy the relationships God has given me.
- Mostly freedom from sin, but also: Freedom to choose; freedom from doubt, fear, & insecurity.
- God’s freedom healed me from self-doubt. I know that his love and grace directly touches me. I am free from legalism and know that God is not waiting around the corner for me to do something wrong, which I will do. He created me, loves me and has set me free. Someday through his grace I’ll take my place with Him.
- Freedom from a perennial, neverending feeling of guilt. Of not being “good enough”. Guilt comes when I fail God but leaves when I ask for grace. Thank-you Father!
- Freed from worry about things like excess possessions and status.
- I have received freedom from Loneliness – God gave me wonderful friends. Complacency – He gives me opportunities to grow spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Inadequacy – my value comes from Christ, and I am “good enough” because of His love. Feeling lost and without a purpose.
- God gives me freedom from despair over guilt and has give me purpose and hope, as well as a desire for more understanding of His will.
- Freedom to join a church where I can grow spiritually and find the purpose of my being.
I hope you find the experiences of others encouraging for you. Please leave a comment and encourage someone else.
- How have you experienced freedom in Christ?
- Do you agree with the statement “We are baptised, not just to be saved, but also to be sent.“?