Have you seen the TED talk featuring Simon Sinnek, “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Every One to Take Action”? His point is that businesses/organizations need to be clear about the “Why” if they hope to grow their company, or in our case, the church. A clear understanding of the answer to “why” develops loyalty in the ones who share the belief and draws people from the outside. Those who identify with the “why” will work with their blood, sweat, and tears for the leader of their organization.
Why do we exist? As individuals? As Christian congregations? What is our purpose? In other words: “what’s the answer to our ‘why?’” C.S. Lewis said, “There exists in every church something that sooner or later works against the very purpose for which it came into existence. So we must strive very hard, by the grace of God to keep the church focused on the mission that Christ originally gave to it.”
The Gospel lesson for this Sunday (John 3:14-21) reminds us “Why” we exist as individuals and as Christian congregations. “God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son …”. God’s one intention is to save mankind. “Mission begins in the heart of God and expresses his great love for the world. It is the Lord’s gracious initiative and ongoing activity to save a world incapable of saving itself.” (LCMS CTCR, A Theological Statement of Mission)
A study of the Gospel of John reveals that the idea of being “SENT” is a central motif of John’s Gospel. The Father sends the Son (John 1:1-3, 14; 3:16; 15:21; 16:5; 17:23) … the Father and Son send the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:5-15; 20:22) … and the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit sends us (John 20:21, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (cf. 17:18)
It is said, “It’s not so much that the church has a mission. It’s more that God’s mission has a church!” C.F.W. Walther observes, “You see, dear brethren, … we are assembled here not for our own sake. We are in the faith, and by this faith we hope to be saved! But there are still millions who have no faith! This is why we are here … so that we might bring salvation to as many people as we possibly can … Only for this reason does our gracious God allow Christians to live on earth, that they might bring others to the saving faith. Otherwise God would immediately take a Christian to heaven as soon as he is converted.” (C.F.W. Walther, Essays for the Church, Vol. 2. [St. Louis: Concordia, 1992]: 60-62, Emphasis added). Our Lord sends us to our homes, schools, workplaces, and neighbourhoods to share Jesus’ love through our words and deeds so that people might have the abundant life that He alone provides!
May the prayer of our hearts and the passion of our congregations reflect that of Isaiah who, when asked by the LORD, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us? responded, “Here I am, Lord! Send me! Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)