As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world (John 17:18).
A photograph and article in my local newspaper caught my attention. The article was about an Olympic athlete from Uganda who had been kidnapped and forced into fighting as a child soldier in a revolutionary army.
Julius Achon was photographed on the ground stretching his legs next to an American runner at the Nike World Campus a few miles from my home. The All-American runner was wearing the latest Nike running shoes, poly-fiber work-out pants, and a hot pink sleeveless athletic shirt. Mr Achon was wearing a button-up shirt, tattered knee-length shorts, and typical African flat-soled sandals. The two athletes were there to run, but could not have looked or been prepared for the race more differently!
The two-time Olympian doesn’t run so he can train hard. He doesn’t run to showcase an expensive new outfit. It’s not to gather a crowd of spectators in a stadium. His running goal isn’t to line-up sponsors. Mr Achon runs to win the race set before him.
What is the race (or mission) God has set before the local church?
Many people attend church for the primary purpose of fellowship and community with like-minded people. Others value activities which entertain, encourage, or inspire. A few go to increase their Biblical knowledge or energize their spiritual growth. It’s become more popular to see the church as the source for social change, while some arrive Sunday because it’s a tradition which makes them feel good about themselves.
After His resurrection, Jesus said to His disciples: As the Father has sent Me, I also send you (John 20:21). Jesus had been sent into the world to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). His last words before ascending to Heaven were for His followers to Go therefore and make disciples of all nations … (Matthew 28:19).
Sometimes I wonder if we’re running for good reasons, but all the wrong reasons.