MAGNITUDE of a God-made Movement
How far is God's reach? Most people in the world picture the reach of God like Michelangelo's Creation of Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It seems to me that Adam, with his weight reclining on his right arm behind him, is making little effort with his left arm to reach over to God. On the other side, God appears to be fully extending Himself with angels seemingly supporting Him so that He does not fall out of heaven. Adam seems to be offering Him a half-hearted, bent wrist, limp-fish, fingers-only hand shake (it's creepy), from which a single finger is reluctantly lifted to God's outstretched body. It is obvious in the picture that God is doing most of the reaching. Although there is some truth in this picture, even this gives man too much credit. Man would still be mud if God had not reached His hands in the dirt and formed man's body. Man would be a lifeless clay sculpture if God had not reached down and, with a kiss, gave him life-giving breath. Just like God made all of the effort in the creation of man, He also made all of the effort in the salvation of man. In our picture, God in Jesus extended Himself, grabbed human form, and did not let go of it until He had paid the price for all humanity. It is still a work of God to take the lifeless corpse of the unredeemed and breathe new life, forming a new creation. God did all the reaching so that forgiveness and salvation are only a breath away.
So, we can see that when it comes to God reaching down to man, He did all the work. But what about God's horizontal reach? How far does it extend? While God's vertical reach was all His doing, He has chosen for His horizontal reach to include man. We could not save ourselves, and we cannot save others, but we can tell them where salvation can be found and how they can attain it. This is our part of the horizontal reach of God; sharing the Good News is the most important thing we can do to "love your neighbor as yourself." Two verses tell us how far God's reach is on earth and how long it will be available. They define the Magnitude of the Movement.
Matthew 28:18-20 All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
The bold areas in the passages above describe the magnitude of our mission. We are to engage every nation with the Gospel until the end of the age or Christ's return. We are to do it from Jerusalem, which, in application, might be considered where we are right now, to the ends of the earth. Needless to say, the magnitude of our engagement with the Good News is immense; therefore, we need all hands on deck. We have no room in the church for passengers. We must all be crew in our battle to free humanity from the enemies of sin, self, and Satan. The enormity of our mission requires that our churches stop being gathering places for spectators and become training centers for participators. They must be more like conduits than containers, boot camps for warriors rather than summer camp for vacationers.
Another question we might ask is, "How long will God reach?" There is an urgency in this, because we know that the opportunity for us to share the Gospel and for others to believe in this message of Good News, has a shelf life. But for the time being it is our privilege to share it. Allow me to help you understand this another way by asking a question: “How big should the church be?” or “When should a church stop reaching and growing?” The answer is: as long as there is one lost person in the world, the church should grow and reproduce. So, every church should reach people, grow, and reproduce until Christ returns and until all have heard the message. It is part of the command of Jesus. As I wrote in my first book...
Movement is implicit in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19). In it we are commanded to make disciples through the process of going, baptizing, and teaching. I used to see this as cyclical, but, more correctly, it is an ever-expanding spiral, like a tornado with an ever-growing vortex expanding as it moves upward. Jesus’ “teaching them to obey all I have commanded” sends us right back to the commandment to go and make a new generation of disciples who will then go and make disciples. In Acts 1:8 Jesus says that the Spirit empowers disciples to become an ever expansive influence to “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” It is a command to transform others, teaching them to transform others. -- Transformative Church Planting Movement
On an additional note, in Acts 1:8, the word “and” means that we should be doing these simultaneously: “Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” We should always have one foot in our community and one in the ends of the earth. This is a good argument for giving and participating in missions and, for my tribe, participating in the Cooperative Program.
Nothing less than the love of God through the power of the Spirit of God can do the mission of God to the magnitude God desires.
What's stopping you from being a part of a God-made movement?
What do the people in your Jerusalem (sphere of influence) look like?
List everything you know about the people in your sphere of influence.
Who in your sphere of influence could you engage in a gospel, grow, or going relationship?