Jesus commends the church in Philadelphia for keeping the faith and encourages them to pursue the mission of the Kingdom. The Church is called to mission.
“Mission was not made for the church; the church was made for mission—God’s mission.” –Chris Wright
“I am not going to be able to come back and teach this year.” Not an email anyone wants to receive a few weeks before an international school is scheduled to start. And especially not while on vacation with the family. The email came from the middle school English teacher saying she would not be returning in August. Out of frustration I prayed, “Well, God, this school is not my school. It’s not the superintendent’s school. It’s yours, and you need a teacher.” The next day I received an email from one of our teachers letting me know he and his wife met a girl with an English degree interested in working at the school. God found a teacher for His school.
Hudson Taylor made the statement, “God isn’t looking for people of great faith, but for individuals ready to follow Him.” Jenni, the girl with the English degree, was ready to follow Jesus to Jerusalem. Are we ready to follow Jesus into His mission? The letter to the church in Philadelphia reveals that we have been called to mission.
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.’
“‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
What motivates you? Are you pursuing opportunities to serve in the Kingdom? Are you engaging in the mission of Jesus, proclaiming the Good News? Are you working to establish peace? Are you engaging in justice advocacy for the oppressed? Are you doing acts of compassion that meet the needs of others?
Expect His help, but also expect criticism. Not everyone is happy when you successfully represent Jesus.
An Urgent Need
John Stott accurately prescribes the Church as urgently needing believers of profound zeal, willing to count all things loss for God’s glory and willing to hazard life, comfort, career, and reputation for Him. Open doors are many, but few are going through them. “He sets before us the open doors of salvation and of service. He bids us go in through the one to receive salvation and out through the other to give service.”[i]
Think of Jesus’ call as two-fold. First “come and see,” and then “go and die.” Jesus says come and see the pearl of great price, a hidden treasure. Then go give everything you have for it. Dietrich Bonhoeffer claims, “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.”[ii]
Pursue open doors given by God. Engage in the global mission of proclamation, justice advocacy, peacemaking, and compassion. Seek opportunities to make disciples and advance His kingdom, locally and globally.
Small Group Discussion Starters
- Follow-up from previous discussion: What did you do to “freshen” up your faith this past week? In what ways did you display an authentic love of God and neighbor to those around you?
- What doors have you walked through in the past in response to fulfilling God’s mission?
- What God-given opportunities are open to you that you are hesitant to pursue?
- How can you engage in the mission of Jesus in your home, neighborhood, workplace, and church (proclamation, justice advocacy, peacemaking, and acts of compassion)?
- How are you engaging in the global mission of God where little or no access is available? Where is the mission taking you (literally and/or figuratively)?
As a group hold each other accountable to engage in the mission of God. Pray and ask God to reveal open doors and give you strength to walk through them. Ask for discernment on how to share His message, establish peace, engage in justice advocacy, and meet the needs of others.
[i] Stott, 103-104.
[ii] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together and Prayerbook of the Bible, (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2005), 11.