The question comes with some insistency to those of us who are Christ’s followers, like, if Jesus came to seek and to save the lost, then, how exactly does he continue to continue that today, and with us? First-of-all, we need to remember that he taught his followers: “As the Father has sent me, even so send I you.” That puts the ball in our court. But then we need to be reminded that Jesus didn’t hang out with the temple crowd, rather he socialized with tax collectors and sinners, and a whole array of persons who were ‘irreligious’.

That’s our clue. Where do each of us encounter those whom Jesus came to seek and save? It’s always encouraging to be together with others of his followers for worship and fellowship on Sundays, and to be reminded that we have a mission to be a witness to Christ in our community, … but then we come back to the reality, that if we belong to Christ, and if he dwells in us by his Spirit, … then, we need to have his passion for sinners, for the lost, that he purposes to incarnate through us. Our point of contact with these objects of his saving love, then, comes wherever we are: home, neighborhood, workplace, social group (bicycle club, etc.), labor union, coffee klatch, classrooms and innumerable other possibilities.

Church worship services and Bible study groups are essential to our growth as Christ’s disciples, but they can also become havens of escape from one-on-one encounters with those Jesus came to seek and to save. In the epistle of First Peter, we are encouraged to live such exemplary among these unbelieving folks that they will see our good deeds and glorify God in the end. But then this passage goes on to instruct us, that if anyone asks a reason for the hope that is in us, we be ready to give a well-reasoned answer, and to give it with gentleness and respect.

Maybe an evaluation of the life and influence of the late Irish poet Seamus Heaney will help. He was said to be so loved because he personified warmth, humor, caring and courtesy. Our mission field is our 24/7 daily scene. As Eugene Peterson paraphrased the John 1 statement about Jesus: “The word took on flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.” … And Jesus’ design is that such continue in and through each of us.

In future Blogs, I want to unpack the need for excellence in each of our lives, and some of the spiritual disciplines that make that a joyous reality. Stay tuned!

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About rthenderson

Sixty years a pastor-teacher within the Presbyterian Church. Author of several books, the latest of which are a trilogy on missional ecclesiology: ENCHANTED COMMUNITY: JOURNEY INTO THE MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH, then, REFOUNDING THE CHURCH FROM THE UNDERSIDE, then THE CHURCH AND THE RELENTLESS DARKNESS. Previous to this trilogy was A DOOR OF HOPE: SPIRITUAL CONFLICT IN PASTORAL MINISTRY, and SUBVERSIVE JESUS, RADICAL FAITH. I am a native of West Palm Beach, Florida, a graduate of Davidson College, then of Columbia and Westminster Theological Seminaries.
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