Have you ever asked yourself the question, "Why am I here?" I don't mean why are you "here" in this meeting of Berean Bible Church this morning. I hope you're not asking that. What I mean is, "Why do we exist?" What is the purpose of our existence. Do we exist to work? To have fun? To gain possessions? Why are we here? What is our goal in life? What is our mission? Do you know? If someone asked you what your goal or mission in life was, what would you tell them?
Is it really that important that we know what our mission in life is? Yes. If we don't know what our mission is, how will we ever accomplish it?
Ralph Jones is the president of Jones Manufacturing which employs the largest number of people in the county. Several years ago at a high school football game the person sitting next to Ralph, who was from out of town, asked him, "What does your company do?" Ralph's answer was simple: "We make yarn -- for everything from mops to Polo sweaters."
Ralph's answer was short, simple, clear and to the point. This very successful man summed up his life's work in 10 words. This could have been his mission statement. What is your mission statement? You can't accomplish anything if you don't know what you're trying to accomplish. That's the purpose of a Mission Statement.
Having a mission can make an amazing difference in your life. When you know where you're going, and you take steps to get there, a miracle occurs: you begin to make progress!
Rich and I, as elders of Berean Bible Church, feel that it is important for us as a church to have a
mission statement. We wanted to clarify where we were going so we could take the appropriate
steps to get there. After much prayer and study, we have come up with a mission statement for
BBC. We feel that this is our mission or goal as a church and your mission and goal as a
Christian. We boiled it down to twenty two words.
Deep in the heart of every believer there is an awareness that we are on this planet for purposes greater than having a career, paying the bills, loving our families, and fulfilling our role as upstanding citizens. The primary reason we remain on this planet is to help others in their spiritual walk. We see this principle set forth by two passages in Philippians:
Philippians 1:23-25 (NKJV) For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. 25 And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith,
Paul's desire was to depart this planet and be with Christ, but he knew that his remaining here would benefit the Philippians. Thus, he saw that his purpose for living was to help others in their spiritual walk. To live for Christ was to live to help others in their Christian walk.
Philippians 2:3-4 (NKJV) Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
We are to esteem others better than ourselves and thus live to see the best interest of others fulfilled. The whole Bible bears out the fact that Christianity is "others" oriented. This is why when people live simply to promote their own interest and desires, they live empty lives, void of any real meaning.
Understanding that Christianity is others oriented let's see if we can explain our mission statement in such a way as to make you grasp it as your own.
Our Mission: to influence friends who are living in spiritual darkness, that they also may know the joy of loving the Lord Jesus Christ.
The first thing I want you to see is that this is the mission statement of those who are living in the joy of loving the Lord Jesus Christ. We are all called to this end. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, He responded:
Matthew 22:37-38 (NKJV) Jesus said to him, " 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' 38 "This is the first and great commandment.
God, as our creator ,commands: we are to love Him. This is the greatest command. What does it mean to love God? Jesus put it this way:
John 14:15 (NKJV) "If you love Me, keep My commandments.
Our love for God is demonstrated in our obedience to His commands. The first of which would be to believe in Him.
Acts 16:30-31 (NKJV) And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" 31 So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household."
This is a command. We are to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is more than simply believing that He exists. It is trusting that He is the Lord, the savior of all who put their trust in Him. It is understanding that apart from trusting completely in His finished work on calvary for my sin, I will pay for my own sin throughout eternity in Hell.
We show our love for the Lord out of a delight to obey His commands.
1 John 5:3 (NKJV) For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.
Loving God is not a burden, when you really love someone you delight in doing things for them. Loving God is finding our joy, our delight, and our satisfaction in Him.
Psalms 16:11 (NKJV) You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
The God who created us created within us a desire for happiness that is only fulfilled in Him. Only as we live in a love relationship with Him will we know the fullness of joy.
Loving God brings full joy to our lives and it is our calling to share this great joy with others that they also may live to the end for which they were created.
Our Mission: to influence friends who are living in spiritual darkness, that they also may know the joy of loving the Lord Jesus Christ.
As we walk in the light of God's fellowship experiencing full joy, we desire that others also may experience this joy, so we reach out to those who are living in spiritual darkness. Darkness is used in Scripture in several different ways. It is used to refer to those who don't know God, the lost:
Acts 26:18 (NKJV) 'to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.'
Colossians 1:13 (NKJV) He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love."
1 Peter 2:9 (NKJV) But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
As believers, we have been delivered from the power of darkness. We are children of light. By our faith in Jesus Christ we have eternal life.
But the Scripture also uses darkness to refer to believers who are walking in ignorance or disobedience.
Romans 13:11-13 (KJV) And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. 13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
Paul says, "let us cast off the works of darkness," which would be speaking of believers living in disobedience.
Notice what John writes to believers in:
1 John 1:3-7 (NKJV) that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. 5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
As believers living in the joy of loving the Lord Jesus Christ, we are to be an influence on those who don't know God and those who do know Him but are not walking in obedience to Him.
We are to "influence friends." Let's look at these words individually. Influence - this is our mission. We are to influence the world in which we live. This is clearly what Christ meant in:
Matthew 5:13-16 (NKJV) "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. 14 "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 "Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
As salt and light, we influence our world. Notice that the ultimate purpose is found in verse 16. "...that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." God is glorified in us when we thank him for all we have, trust him for all we need, and obey his revealed will. We glorify God when we find our delight in Him. We are to influence our friends that they may come to know the joy of loving the Lord Jesus Christ and thus bring Him glory.
How do we influence our friends? Two ways; by how we live and what we say. What is to come first? Example. People aren't interested in committing their lives to Christ unless they observe attractive and consistent patterns of living in the Christians they know. Joe Aldrich, author of the book, Life-Style Evangelism, puts it like this: "Christians are to be good news before they share the good news."
Richard Cross has an amazing story. At the age of 25, he had spent more than 15 years in prison or reform school. He never considered going straight, so he accepted the notion that prison would always be his second home-if not his first. As a career inmate, he worked hard in prison to earn the respect, and fear of the other prisoners. He was in more than his share of jail yard fights, and he could take any punishment the guards dished out. One day, Richard did something unexpected. He listened to a preacher who had come to preach at the prison. To his surprise, what the preacher said made sense. It wasn't long before Richard gave his life to Christ. Overnight he experienced a radical transformation. He was asked by a Christian, "How did the other prisoners treat you when you gave your life to Christ? Did they lose respect for you?" Richard's answer may surprise you. He said, "My fellow inmates respected me even more after I gave my life to Christ. They respected me because I walked the talk." Then he said, "After a while, when they saw that I meant business about following Jesus, they began to listen to what I had to say. Eventually, I was able to win many of them to Christ."
Richard Cross is one of those people who undoubtedly has made a big influence in the world. Many men have left a life of crime to become followers of Jesus Christ and productive members of society due to the influence and impact of Richard Cross. There is no way to tell how many murders weren't committed, how many children and wives weren't abused, how many people weren't robbed, how many cars weren't stolen, how many random acts of violence didn't take place because of the impact of this one man. Richard Cross has truly made a difference.
The early church made a difference in its world, too. In just a few short years, they turned the world upside down. People were drawn to their message. Why? Because, like Richard Cross, many early Christians were committed to walking the talk. Their lives lived up to their message.
If we want to have an influence in our world as individuals or as a church, we, too must be committed to walking the talk. The world is not interested in hearing intellectual arguments about Christianity, they want to see it in action. They have no use for religious hypocrites, but when someone walks the talk, they pay attention. This is why people like Mother Teresa, Billy Graham, and Jimmy Carter are treated with such respect even by our cynical, liberal, and biased media. You just don't hear many people criticize these individuals. You may not agree with Jimmy Carter's politics or Mother Teresa's theology, but you cannot help but respect their integrity. When a person walks the talk, the world is ready to listen.
People of integrity, that's what we must be if we're going to make a difference in our world. That's what holiness is: walking the talk. If we do it, people will listen. If we don't, they won't. When what we say doesn't measure up to what we do, people find it difficult to take us seriously. When our lives don't measure up, we lose impact. Unless we live holy lives, we cannot make a difference.
You may not be Mother Teresa or Billy Graham, but you can make a big difference in the lives of others. We must begin to hold ourselves to a higher standard. We must say, "I will not settle for mediocrity in my spiritual life or any other area of my existence. I am God's child and I am going to live up to my potential."
The importance of really living the Christian life is illustrated in the life of the famous author Mark Twain. Church leaders were largely to blame for his becoming hostile to the Bible and the Christian faith. As he grew up, he knew elders and deacons who owned slaves and abused them. He heard men using foul language and saw them practice dishonesty during the week after speaking piously in church on Sunday. He listened to ministers use the Bible to justify slavery. Although he saw genuine love for the Lord Jesus in some people, including his mother and his wife, he was so disturbed by the bad teaching and poor example of church leaders, that he became bitter toward the things of God.
As a very young Christian, I was greatly influenced by a man named, Bill Gable. He befriended me shortly after we started to attend the church he went to. I saw in him a man who was 100% committed to following the Lord Jesus Christ. When my father died, we flew to Pennsylvania for the funeral. I had asked several Christians what happens when a person dies, and got no real answer. As soon as we got back to Virginia, I went to Bill and asked him, "What happens when a Christian dies?" He opened his Bible and began to show me what the Scripture had to say. I was greatly comforted by the truth he showed me. That happened over twenty years ago and I still remember that day very well. I decided that day that I was going to be like Bill, I wanted to know the Word of God in such a way that I could help those who needed answers. I feel that my devotion to study was caught from this man's influence. My life was changed by his friendship.
We influence our friends by how we live and what we say. Having a godly Christlike example is not enough. We have to articulate the gospel to them. We have to tell them why we live like we do. We must tell them the damage that sin brings, and the joy of living in an obedient relationship with Jesus Christ.
Now who are we to influence? Or let me put it this way, on whom do you have the greatest influence? Your friends! Aren't you uncomfortable when someone outside your circle of friends tries to influence you in spiritual matters? We naturally gravitate toward people we know and trust. Friends listen to friends. They confide in friends. They let friends influence them.
Proverbs 27:6 (NKJV) Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
Proverbs 27:9 (NKJV) Ointment and perfume delight the heart, And the sweetness of a man's friend gives delight by hearty counsel.
Proverbs 27:17 (NKJV) As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.
Proverbs 22:24-25 (NKJV) Make no friendship with an angry man, And with a furious man do not go, 25 Lest you learn his ways And set a snare for your soul.
The point here is that friends influence us. I think that you all would agree with that. So, our mission is to influence friends.
Now, am I saying that those who aren't our friends we don't have to worry about? Absolutely Not! What I am saying is those who aren't our friends, we have to work at making our friendsso we can have an influence on them. We have to work at getting close to people so they can see that we genuinely care about them and that we have their best interest in mind. Over time, we will become their friends and thus be able to influence them.
Making friends is not something that happens over night or that we do in mass quantity. It takes time and energy. There is a world of people out there who need a friend so if we are truly interested in making friends, we can do it.
Loneliness is a growing problem in our society. A study by the American Council of Life Insurance reported that the most lonely group in America are college students. That's surprising! Next on the list are divorced people, welfare recipients, single mothers, rural students, housewives, and the elderly. To point out how lonely people can be, Charles Swindoll mentioned an ad in a Kansas newspaper. It read, "I will listen to you talk for 30 minutes without comment for $5.00." Swindoll said, "Sounds like a hoax, doesn't it? But the person was serious. Did anybody call? You bet. It wasn't long before this individual was receiving 10 to 20 calls a day. The pain of loneliness was so sharp that some were willing to try anything for a half hour of companionship."
As you make friends and share the joy of loving the Lord Jesus Christ with them, you are truly meeting their deepest needs. You are being a real friend.
Dale Carnegie once said, "You can make more friends in two months by becoming really interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you. Which is just another way of saying that the way to make a friend is to be one."
John Wesley said, "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can."
I think that all too often we are afraid to associate with people who are living in spiritual darkness because they cuss, or drink or live immorally. But isn't that the very type of person we want to influence for Christ?
Luke 7:34 (NKJV) "The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, 'Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!'
Jesus was a friend of sinners, and so should we be. As we have seen, the vantage point of friendship gives us the highest possibility of influence in the lives of others. Where ever we go we should be attempting to make friends that we may share the gospel of Christ with them. Friends listen to friends, so become one.
A recent poll by researcher, George Barna, showed that about twenty-five percent of the adults in the United States would go to Church if a friend would invite them.
So our mission is: to influence -- we do this by how we live and through the proclamation of the gospel message. friends-- those who know that we love and care about them, those we have spent time with building relationships. Who are living in spiritual darkness -- those who don't know Christ, they have never trusted Him for their salvation. And also, those who are Christians but are not living in obedience to the Lord. That they also may know the joy of loving the Lord Jesus Christ -- please note that the word "also" implies that you know the joy of loving the Lord Jesus Christ. As we said last week, everybody wants to be happy. And the only way for man to truly be happy is to live in fellowship with the God who created him. Our happiness and joy comes for God and God alone.
Once you adopt this as your mission, you need to memorize it and then evaluate all you do by it. As you go through life looking to make friends that you may influence for the Lord, life becomes exciting. There is nothing in life as exciting as befriending, loving, and influencing those who are living in spiritual darkness toward the joy of loving the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is the bottom line of all that we do. We want to influence people to live in the joy of an intimate relationship with the Lord. As we do this, it will fill up the measure of our joy.
3 John 1:4 (KJV) I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
When we delight in God, we delight in helping others delight in Him also. Because God is our delight, we take joy in helping others to delight in Him also.
Who's life are you influencing by your friendship? Are you living a life of honesty, integrity, and love that attracts others to Christ? Loving the Lord Jesus Christ bring the happiness the world is looking for. Let's show them and tell them about the joy of loving Jesus. We are on this planet for a reason, let's get busy.