The aftermath to Easter never fails to arrest me. First, there is the utterly astounding revelation that Jesus has risen from death and is accessible to us. For me, this is the starting place of my Christian journey: that I can and do have a personal relationship with someone who rules over the whole of what is seen and unseen, my Lord Jesus. I remember when that first happened for me in 1975. It utterly changed my life. Conviction of sin and my need for meaning and purpose in life was a precursor to my conversion. The conversion was to being a follower and worshipper of the living and ruling Son of God, Jesus Christ.
But it is the Biblical witness of the Gospel accounts that tell me where I have to go next. Matthew’s acknowledgement that we are to ‘make disciples’, with the important qualification that we are to teach them the things that Jesus commanded (Matthew 28.19-20); Mark’s postscript, underlining the need to preach the Good News everywhere, accompanied with supernatural signs (Mark 16.15-18); Luke’s stress on Jesus’s insistence that the disciples wait until they are clothed with the empowering of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24.47-48), in order to effectively preach repentance and forgiveness of sins; and John’s focus on the foundational expression of love and forgiveness, caring for people, at the centre of all that we do (John 20.21-23).
That emphasis on ‘no evangelism without first loving’ is wonderfully expressed by Chris Duffet and Ben Francis in an article in the most recent edition of the BMS Magazine, Engage (pg 17), where they also helpfully note that you do not have to be a full-on extrovert to be effective in evangelism: you can, even as an utter introvert, be really effective if you prioritise reaching out and caring to those in need.
But there is something else to remember, as we come out of Easter and head towards Pentecost. We need a real expectation and longing and dependancy on Holy Spirit infilling and enabling. Mission that is not birthed out of prayerful longing for God’s presence felt and God’s directing known is likely to be as ineffective as mission without love and forgiveness and reconciliation at its centre.
A good challenge and call to face up to as Spring arrives. Start with love, repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation among believers. Extend it out into the community. And seek God to ignite it all with His Holy Presence, signs and wonders accompanying. Then we will be set up for a truly Bible based experience of mission.