Sermon Summary: John 20:21-23
We all face the same choice that Adam first faced: Will you let God rule your life, live in the beautiful Garden-of-Eden of his blessing and have eternal life? Or, will you reject God’s kingship, live in the wilderness apart from him and perish? The cross of Christ presents that choice most clearly. At the cross the full radiance of God’s love was displayed and so were the true dimension of human wickedness – will you have Jesus, the King of Love, as your King? Or will you reject his love, depose him and sit yourself down in his place on the throne of your heart?
In these verses from John 20, when Jesus sends the disciples out he is sending the Church to fill every part of human existence with this same truth: With Christ as King there is life, beauty, goodness and truth, but without his Lordship there is nothing but emptiness and destruction. The Church’s mission then – understood in the fullest sense (and pictured fully in Rev. 21) – is to order the whole of creation to this truth, condemning all evil and utilising every part of human ingenuity to order the world to the praise of God. The purpose of that mission is for the world to see that everything that is good, true or beautiful comes from the throne of Christ, while anything that rejects his rule ends up in destruction, misery and ruin. We call this the ministry of reconciliation because it reflects Jesus’ own mission to reconcile all things to God through himself. (Col 1:20)
This understanding of the mission of the Church leads directly the idea of vocation. Vocation is the call that God makes to every Christian to fulfill some part of that big mission. Since God’s plan is to fill every part of human experience with this truth, God gives each Christian unique gifts, (interests, skills, passions and spiritual gifts) and places each of us in different situations. Every Christian has a duty to use their gifts to condemn evil and order the world to the praise of God. As each person takes up their role, God’s glory flows into the world in unique and powerful ways, presenting the truth of the cross ever more clearly, using every voice in creation to proclaim the Gospel to every tribe and tongue and nation. This call comes to all Christians, in every part of their life and at all stages of life.
This is a life-giving and freedom-imparting truth: It’s true that the Christian life is meant to take effort, we are meant to strive at it, fighting evil and using our gifts to best of our ability, but God doesn’t actually expect each of us to be good at everything, or for us all to conform to a one fixed idea of the perfect Christian life. Each of us has different gifts and callings, and that’s not just “OK”, it’s really beautiful! (Like a temple made of precious stones!) Since God builds us together into a temple for his Spirit, not only do we display God’s glory more clearly, but we actually know him and enjoy him more as we fulfil our vocation.