A healthy church is measured by its “influence” or dimensions of impact rather than “success” with big buildings and/or programs.
Luke portrays why Jesus came to us in following passage, which became the foundation of our great commision. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” – Luke 4:18-19
Spreading the Gospel (evangelism) and healing (liberation and restoring relationship with God) were Jesus’ main ministries, which is passed down to the Church, the Body of Christ.
The healthy Body of Christ has: 1) Strong Head (Theological Depth); 2) Heart (Missional Zeal and Passion for Worship); 3) Hand (Addressing Community Issues Requiring Mercy and Justice).
In Ezekiel 16:49-50, God says, “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.”
Sodomites and Gomorrahites were practicing the acts of the flesh: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft. They were full of hatred, discord, jealousy, rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and the like (Gal. 5:19-21).
Apostle Paul warns us in Galatians 6:1-2, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” God warns that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Apostle Paul warns and encourages us, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Gal. 6:7-10).
As we live with by the Spirit, we will yield the fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. No laws are above or against these things (Gal. 5: 22-25).
Prophet Ezekiel delivers the good news, “The Lord will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you, and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. Then you shall live in the land that I gave to your ancestors, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.” – Ezekiel 36:25-28
The genuine and ultimate image of the Church is well described after the promised descension of the Holy Spirit. Apostle Peter says in Acts 2:15-21:
“Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days it will be, God declares,that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’”
There were great transformation happened after people repented and baptized.
“Awe came upon everyone because many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.” – Acts 2:43-47
Strategies and Theology for Cross-Cultural Mission in Congregations (Excerpt from “Mission: An Essential Guide” by Carlos F. Cardoza-Orlandi)
1. Christian communities need to provide a learning, caring, and affective space for mutual encounter and dialogue.
2. Participating in cross-cultural mission requires mutual patience and compassion. Patience, because there will be times when our plans and objectives will not be accomplished. High expectations and ambitious, planned objectives can harm the process.
3. Cross-cultural mission is grounded in the Christian experience of liberation and reconciliation. Reconciliation begins with the oppressed. The invitation for reconciliation comes from those who have suffered the consequences of cultural, economic, political, and social displacement, and oppression.
4. Cross-cultural mission acknowledges the mutual recognition of incomplete, partial communal visions, with the understanding of the privileged location of those at the margins. Cross-cultural mission recognizes the particularity of cultures and the need to dwell in one another’s cultures in order to see and develop more comprehensive communal and missional visions.
5. Cross-cultural mission is a sacramental activity. The missional encounter of cultures needs to establish a roundtable for sharing food and nourishing dialogue.
6. The dialogical and programmed activities of cross-cultural mission need to be seasoned with devotional and spiritual mutuality. Coming together for worship and witnessing becomes a crucial factor in faith exchange and transformation of both communities.
7. Finally, cross-cultural mission will occur as Christian communities offer mutual hospitality and recognize time, not as money, but as a gift of God to know one another. One of the most dramatic characteristics of the church in Acts is its hospitable character to fellow Christians and others in the community. (Acts 2:46-47)