This is another guest post by Andy Schultz, a teaching elder and the Worship Director at Faith-Highland, and a Masters student at Kuyper College in Grand Rapids, MI.
In Part One of this three-part series examining Faith Church’s mission statement, I highlighted passages from both the Old and New Testament to show a clear direction that we, as God’s people, are to walk in to bless the nations. There was a pattern of obedience to follow God’s command to be that blessing, and there was an assurance that it would be done for the glory of God, participating in the great story of Scripture.
At the tail end of the list from a week ago was an answer to the question “How will we know exactly what to do?” Jesus addresses this before his ascension.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (ESV)
It isn’t just that the Holy Spirit will guide us, but Jesus gives some specific locations for where we should take this message. The content message had changed for God’s people, as it now includes the Son of Man’s death and resurrection as the Messiah that Israel had long sought. Luke, the author of the Book of Acts, referred to this good news and the practice of spreading it, as “the Way.” The Way had a landing place as well. Jesus offered that it should be taken to “Jerusalem…Judea…Samaria…and to the end of the earth.” The events of the Bible took place -chronologically up to this point in Acts – in a relatively small area, but Jesus points much further – –locally, regionally, nationally, and globally.
That involves a lot of people. Who do we address this good news to? Our mission statement begins with “Reach the disconnected,” which means we need to identify those who are disconnected.
Plainly put, the disconnected are those far from God. We can all either relate personally or identify others who fall into this category, but in Acts, it took quite a bit of time for the realm of the disconnected to actually receive the gospel message. Going back to Jesus’s statement about being “witnesses in Jerusalem…Judea…Samaria, and (all) the earth,” the earliest realm of those receiving this message for the first time were Jewish people, God’s people, Israel. It took some convincing, too. Acts 4:2 tells us that Jewish leaders were “greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead” (ESV).
An Expanded Audience
Peter’s teachings in synagogues were simply the first layer of the message going out, but non-Jewish people weren’t even considered to hear this message. It wasn’t until Peter’s vision in Acts 10 where he “saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending” (v. 11) which held “all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air” (v. 12) and a voice told Peter to “kill and eat” (v. 13) that Peter began to understand its implications for non-Jewish peple. Peter’s Jewish background forbade him from eating unclean things, and he resisted the vision. However, the Spirit orchestrated a meeting with Cornelius, a centurion. Peter was sought in Joppa by Cornelius because of the centurion’s own vision and visited Caesarea. Despite the fact that it was “unlawful…for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation,” God had recently spoken to Peter to tell him he should “not call any person common or unclean” (v. 28), which was the purpose of his original vision.
Therefore, as Jesus instructed in Acts 1:8, the available population of ears to hear this Good News expanded to, seemingly, everyone.
“So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” Acts 10:34-35 (ESV)
To faithfully follow the first half of Faith Church’s mission statement to “Reach the disconnected” we must see that the disconnected are everywhere and from every background. The disconnected can be those who grew up in church and those who did not. The disconnected can be those who have the same background and upbringing as we do, or who are the complete opposite in every way. The Holy Spirit is working within those that comprise Faith Church to reach the disconnected for His glory, to restore the world, and to reconcile all God’s people to Him. If we are obedient to the call of the Holy Spirit and the words of Jesus in Matthew 28 and Acts 1, we’ll truly reach the disconnected in the way He wants – placing us in God’s great story of redemption for the world!
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