Our Greatest Tasks

Perhaps one of the greatest tasks that the Church has been called to do is one that we, for the most part, fail at miserably. Yet, in the midst of that failure, it is primary to the survival of the global Church. Someone once said that Christianity is only one generation from expiration.

What is that task? Well, there are two significant references found in scripture, one found in the Old Testament and the other in the New Testament each one with it’s own spin. The Old Testament reference is Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Leviticus 19:18; and Mark 12:28-34 known as the great command. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ The New Testament reference focuses on defining who our neighbor is while the Old Testament defines our relationship with God.

Now, as I see it, the Church is really entrusted with the task of presenting one thing to the world. To put it in business terms, the Church markets one product and one product only. That is Relationship! That’s it in a nutshell. relationship. Everything the Church is engaged in doing should revolve around marketing/presenting that one product-Relationship.

What does that mean specifically? Well, this is my spin on it. We market two kinds of relationships - a relationship with God and relationships with our neighbors (the world around us). You can’t really do the second one without a healthy relationship with God through Jesus Christ, at least it won’t be at optimum.

You see, everyone has a relationship with God, it’s either good or bad. It’s either healthy or damaged, you either acknowledge your creator or you ignore it - but everyone has a relationship with God. Likewise, we all relate to the world around us and we either do it well or do it with great dysfunction. We all suffer with broken, fractured, strained or alienated relationships with someone. We all have someone we really don’t like very well and vice versa, their are people who don’t like me very well. That’s relationship - good and/or bad.

The Church hasn’t always been stellar in this but it certainly has a great message of hope and the means to enhancing those relationships over and beyond anything else, even beyond the Barnes and Noble self-help section. Having a relationship with Jesus Christ is the first step to restoration and a healthier world-view. The Church seeks to promote this relationship at the primary step to redemption within myself and within the world around us. This is really what Incarnational ministry is all about. Fleshing out the love of Christ all around us. The Church exists to equip us, prepare us, encourage us, affirm us to go out and present this great “product” to the world.

What does this have to do with missions? Everything! Theoretically, every task and effort the Church is engaged in should be focused on enhancing this one product- our Relationship with God and neighbor, EVERYTHING! Anything beyond that is a distraction, completely. Like most organizations, once institutionalized they take on an institutional inertia all of their own and go into maintenance mode and forget why they ever organized and exist in the first place. They become self-serving. The Church is the only organization that I know of that organizes itself for non-members, or at least should. That’s our DNA.

Missions and what we do in Panama is focus on this one task. When teams come, we ask that they focus NOT on the physical task they signed up to do but to focus on establishing a God presence and focus on Relationships. Everything else is a distraction. Yes, our building a building is important but no as establishing a presence and cultivating healthy relationships.

So, reevaluate your own life, your presuppositions of your faith, your church activities, and your own life purpose. Don’t be distracted, get focused and stay on mission. On my next blog, I’ll share my take of FOCUS (love acronyms).
Blessings to all and see you in Panama,
Dr. David Ceballos