I was reading through Acts in my quiet times this last week when I was struck by the enormous cost, mission actually is for God’s people.
It is not that our salvation costs us anything – we must affirm it is a gracious gift from a merciful saviour for all who come to him for forgiveness of their sin (Eph 2:8-10). But mission certainly should cost us.
Jesus does not call his people to hide in a commune or for a quiet stroll in the garden. He calls them to mission (summarised at the top of this page). The passage I was reading is in Acts 16 and it speaks of Paul wanting to take Timothy on mission with him.
Timothy was highly spoken of as a disciple of Jesus and there were probably some compelling arguments for him to stay and help the church in Lystra grow. But Paul had a view of mission that was not about church growth but kingdom growth. He wanted to take Timothy along with him – probably to disciple him… that is both to train him and use him in kingdom work (proclaiming the kingdom of God, calling people to repentance and forgiveness of sin through Jesus Christ and to joining God’s kingdom).
It was four little words in Acts 16:3 that struck me and might I say, challenged me to whether I really took the cost of God’s mission seriously.
The words were, “so he circumcised him”. Now is not the time for me to go into the detail of this procedure, but as a male, I am glad to say that this practice is no longer needed for disciples of God.
The thing that struck me is that Timothy allowed him – circumcision was not a requirement for God’s people under the new covenant, it was not necessary for salvation. After pointing this out clearly to Paul, I would have run back to my home town and declared the calling of God to my comfortable spot in the world. But Timothy did not run – though might I say he probably winced. Timothy no doubt allowed this to happen because he had a heart for gospel ministry.
And here is the challenge (it is certainly the thing that got me thinking) – no I am not calling for circumcision… you will be pleased to know. But what would I / you be prepared to go through to share the gospel with someone so that they might have a restored relationship with Jesus and life in all it’s fullness? What things am I / are you prepared to adjust, to change, or may be able to dispense with all together so that we can meet people where they are at and they can hear the gospel message?