Dear brothers and sisters,
Jesus gave the Church a great mission statement, the reason for why the Church was founded and exists now. In Matthew 28, Jesus has risen from the dead, and the Eleven go to Galilee. We hear: The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (28:16-17). Jesus in his death and resurrection regained what had been lost by Adam, and now deputizes the Apostles, and the Church for all ages, with this same authority and power. Jesus goes on: Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you (28:19-20a). Jesus said that the first thing the Church is to do is to “go” – to be on the move, playing offense not defense. In other words, the Church exists to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Where? Everywhere. We as a local church family have a few zip codes in which we operate in. We as disciples observe what Jesus has commanded us; we are people who orient our whole lives on following Jesus Christ: our work life, our entertainment, our families. Earlier Jesus was asked by a scholar of the Law, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments” (22:37-40). Thus, our parish mission statement, as stated on the front of our parish bulletin, is simple: LOVE GOD, LOVE PEOPLE, MAKE DISCIPLES. This is the task not just of the Church but of every Christian, and what we are going to ponder as a local church this Lenten season. Remember the preaching series back in September entitled Next STEPS – Serving, Tithing/Giving, Engaging in Small Groups, Practicing Prayer and the Sacraments, and Sharing our faith; these steps are what our church is striving to develop, that anyone who enters our door is welcomed and invited toward a clear and accessible path to become disciples of Jesus Christ. Questions for reflection:
What is your definition of a disciple of Jesus Christ? What does a follower of Jesus look like?
What happens to the church if we stop making discipleship our main focus?
Where do you feel you are stronger right now: loving God, or loving others as you love yourself? Why?
How are you doing in self-care? What do you need to do for yourself so you can better love others?
How can our small group or spiritual friendships improve so that we help each other to grow as disciples of Jesus?