Every year our congregation sponsors a missions conference, the one we just finished Saturday. It is also our custom to have the sermon following the missions conference be related to the subject of missions in some way. This message is no exception, but it is important for us not to misunderstand. The fact that we mark Good Friday and Easter on an annual basis does not mean that the crucifixion and resurrection are somehow dispensable in other times of the year. And the fact that we are done with the missions conference does not mean we are done with mission.
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).
Summary of the Text:
At the end of the gospel of Mark, Jesus gives His disciples their marching orders. This is not the Great Commission, but it is on the same theme as that commission. Go into all the world. When you go into all the world, you will find creatures there. When you find creatures there, you are to proclaim the gospel to every creature.
My focus here this morning is to address what is meant by “world.” And how do we “go into” all the world? The short answer is that the world is where the people are.
When These Words Were Spoken:
When Jesus spoke these words, going into the world meant what we would call travel (going from one place to another yourself), and it meant communication across distance (going from one place to another by means of media). Media at the time largely meant letters, or epistles. We still have the same basic options—travel and media. The passage of time has not changed the options, but has rather simply changed the ease and speed of those options. We travel with much greater ease, and we communicate with people on the other side of the world with much greater ease. But we are still following these two basic options.
Now, as before, there are people who use both options wisely. But now, as then, there are people who talk big, but do little else. Then, as now, there were bookworms and basement dudes, hiding from the world through lofty sounding books, posts, tweets, or whatnot, and all because they were scared of girls. As Solomon once put it, there is nothing new under the sun.
So what should we bring with us when we travel? What should we send with our messages when we write? The answer is Jesus, but this must be understood rightly. This does not mean that all your Facebook posts have be pictures of saints with three halos, or that your web site has to play Gregorian chant in the background.
The fact is that mankind is created as a tool-making creature. Adam was created naked, but given the magnitude of the task he was given—which included digging mines, sailing oceans, and climbing mountains—the creation of tools was a necessity. This means that when we make tools, whether plows and shovels, smoke signals or iPhones, we are not violating our essential humanity. Rather we are expressing it. Contrary to the theory of evolution, we are not over-developed animals who moved away from the “natural” and into the “artificial.” For man, the artificial is natural. We want nothing to do with Rousseau’s “noble savage.” Ten minutes after Adam figured out what that honeycomb was, he started looking around for a stick.
Scattering What You Have:
Now wherever Christians go, they go as themselves. “Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only” (Acts 11:19).
Wherever hypocrites go, they also go as themselves. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves” (Matt. 23:15).
Your country can only export whatever it is your farmers are growing. When you go somewhere, or when you send a message somewhere, you are simply projecting what you already are. If you are a bore and a bellygod, then social media will simply enable you to engage in some digital scribbling so that people in New Zealand can, if they wish, read about your grumbles over lunch.
But if you are alive, vibrant, and forgiven, we now live in a world where you can project that.
Times of Refreshing:
The gospel is not some tiresome thing that door-to-door salesmen try to talk you into. “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19). We are actually talking about a cool breeze that blows off the ocean of God’s infinite pleasure and delight. We are talking about times of refreshing, and if we are not talking about times of refreshing then we are not talking about the gospel as presented in Scripture.
Piety is delighted, and delightful. Godliness is free in its enjoyment of the pleasures of God. Obedience is liberty. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). This is quite true—whatever you eat or drink, on whatever day, for whatever meal. This includes, of course, the French fries, but that does not mean that you are to stand on the restaurant chair in order to thank God that you are not like other men, the ones who do not glorify God for the French fries.
The grace of God is good. Do not be like that nun that Brother Lawrence referred to, the one who wanted to be “faster than grace.” This is how we run headlong into scruples and fussing and wowserism. Enjoy your life, the one Christ has given you. And it is not possible to do this without enjoying Christ Himself.
The charge against the early disciples was that they had “filled Jerusalem” with their teaching. “Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us” (Acts 5:28).
We do not have pastors and evangelists as hired guns to do all the evangelism for us. They are trained and equipped so that they can prepare God’s people for works of service (Eph. 4:12). The saints are to do the work of ministry, not at the same level as someone gifted or trained. But all of us are involved. And to be honest, how much training does it take to share or retweet something?
It is not a matter of this technique or that one, this Internet trick or that one, but rather experiencing the presence of Christ in your life and communicating that. Who is the Lord Jesus? Who is this king of glory? He is, among many other things, the Lord of the Internet. His lordship and His offered forgiveness should therefore be proclaimed there. Why would it not be? Is the world there? Are unforgiven creatures there?