Matthew and Mission

Matthew sat among a group of disciples eagerly listening to his story of Jesus. 

“Jesus said, ‘all authority on heaven and earth has been given to me, therefore as you go make disciples, baptising them and teaching them all I have taught you…’”

“In other words”, continued Matthew, “life is about sharing the Gospel; as you go about your business, make disciples.”

“That almost sounds too simple” said one of the group.

“Quite right” said Matthew, that’s exactly what we thought. And so we invented ‘mission’. Matthew now had a glint in his eye.

“Mission” replied the questioner, “what does that mean?” 

“Precisely,” said Matthew, “what does it mean? It means everything and nothing at the same time. It means whatever you want it to mean.”

“Mission means; courses and books, research and consultancy, workshops, webinars, conferences and lectures.”

“Mission means; experts and advisors, specialists and coaches. It means having little time to talk to anyone that isn’t a Christian because you’re too busy teaching Christians about mission.”

“But doesn’t the Church need to know that Jesus wanted them to get on with life, sharing the Gospel as they went? Wouldn’t it make things much simpler?”

Matthew looked aghast. “Of course the Church doesn’t need to know that Jesus left them a clear and simple task”, he shrieked. “That would ruin everything. Imagine how quickly they’d stop investing in our programmes and conferences. The whole mission industry would implode!” 

For the real text: Matthew 28.16-20

Success in ministry 

On hearing that many were abandoning his ministry to follow Jesus; John the Baptist said, “he must become greater, I must become less.” 

“Oh no Rabbi” said one of his followers. “I’m not sure you’re seeing the big picture. Ministry is not about you becoming less, it’s about you gaining maximum exposure, for the Kingdom. This is not the time to disappear. This is the time to expand and diversify.”

“We need to grow your social media profile. We need to think about podcasts, magazines, a blog and online coverage. Also, have you ever thought about writing; you must have a few books worth of material.”

“Or have you thought about leading a church planting or missional movement? And there’s the Christian conference and guest lecture circuit.”

“So sir, you see there’s so much to be doing now that you’re retiring.”

A thunderous look spread over the Baptist’s face, “you brood of…”

The eager follower interrupted, “yes, that’s it, perfect! People will love that angry prophet tone.”

For the first time in many years, John the Baptist was speechless. 

For the real text: John 3.22-30

The birth of children’s ministry 

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them.

“Can’t you see he’s preaching!”, they said. 

Jesus called the disciples over. “That was a little harsh guys. You’ve got to think about the message it gives out. It’s just not politically astute to be sending away children.” 

“What do you suggest Lord”, replied Thaddaeus. 

“Well”, said Jesus pausing for a moment. “We need to be smarter. Of course we don’t want kids interrupting the preaching. We can’t have the grown ups distracted from our message of the Kingdom. We need to keep people focussed on the main thing; our message of God’s compassion. 

But rather than reject them, we need to divert them. Speak to the parents. See if you can arrange a crèche. Or at least a worksheet to keep them occupied. 

Remind them of the older folks, that can’t hear so well.” 

The parents took it well. And soon the little kids were led off to a nearby house to hear bible stories. Jesus promised that he would visit on an annual basis to see how they were getting on.

For the real story: Mark 10.13-16

When you pray. 

Jesus continued, 

“But when you pray, go to your room, close the door…

And spend some time considering what mood music should be the soundtrack to your prayers. 

Try using post-its or other colourful paper to write your requests upon. 

Do some colouring in, or whatever else helps focus your mind. Perhaps start a prayer journal?? 

Draw your prayers, sing them and don’t forget to tweet a #prayerroomselfie.

And above all, don’t forget fairy lights!”

For the real teaching: Matthew 6.6

If Christ is not raised

For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised then at least, moulded by his teaching, we’ll have lived better lives. 

We’ll still have the story of his death to inspire us to sacrifice. We’ll still have his care for the outsider, the excluded and the poor, to make us nicer. And we’ll still have the metaphor of his rising to encourage us that things really do get better.

In fact if Christ has not been raised many of us will notice no significant effect upon our faith. 

For what the Apostle Paul really wrote see: 1 Corinthians 15.12-33

In your name

“Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”
“Did you get his name?” replied Jesus, “Let’s google him…wait has this place got wifi?” 
“Has he got twitter?” someone asked. 
“I found a blog” shouted Matthew. 
“Is he evangelical?” asked John. 
“What does that even mean nowadays John” said James. 
“Ok then, is he complementarian?” asked John. 
“Does his church sing Getty or Bethel?” 
“What’s his view on N T Wright?” 
“Is he emerging?” 
“Ok, ok” said Jesus, loudly. 
“To be on the safe side, let’s issue a press release distancing ourselves. The usual thing please Matthew; say he isn’t part of a ‘Gospel’ church.” 

Based on Mark 9.38-41

Am I the way? 

…Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Thomas replied, “wow Lord, that’s a bold statement! How can you be so sure?”

“What if in the future they discover that there are many other ways; ones that you don’t know about? After all, we can only have a limited view. What if they discover that some people believe in many Gods?”
“You mean like the Romans do?” answered Jesus.

“Well yes there’s the Romans, but I was thinking about people more sophisticated than that. Maybe, people living far in the future will know more about God than you?”
“I hadn’t really considered that” answered Jesus. Do you think it’s possible I’m mistaken? Have I been a little naive thinking that I could embody God’s definitive message to the world?”

“It’s possible” replied Thomas.
“Oh dear” said Jesus. “That’s a little hard to take. I’ve been working on the assumption that my Father really was the one true God.”
“And well he may be. How can we truly know?” said Thomas.

“What do the Scriptures say Lord?” said John, joining the discussion.

“Ah, the Scriptures, there’s a whole new set of problems” said Thomas.
He continued, “what if they’re not all the actual word of God? I mean, what if only some of the Scriptures provide good spiritual guidance. What if they’re more like an almanac of human reflection on the divine?”

Jesus groaned, “you mean I can’t trust the Scriptures either?”

“Oh Jesus, don’t be such a literalist! Of course you can trust them! You can trust them like an old friend. They’re the culmination of years of tradition and meditation.”

“But I’ve always thought God spoke in the Scriptures” replied Jesus.
“Of course “God” “speaks” in them, John said, while doing air quotes with his fingers. But that doesn’t mean “God” doesn’t speak elsewhere. It’s a little arrogant for us to think we have the monopoly on truth.”

Jesus looked concerned. “Maybe I’m not the way” he whispered. “Maybe I’m not the way. Maybe this is all wrong!”

Jesus stood, clearly shaken. He was speaking under his breath. And then he slumped to the floor, kneeling in the dirt. “All the sacrifice, all the promises, all the effort for nothing. I’m not the way. I’m possibly just one of many ways. Or may be I’m nothing at all.”

“This has all been pointless.”

“Oh no Lord”, said Thomas, “don’t overreact. I never said you’re not the way. It’s just impossible to really know. We need to remain at least a little agnostic.”

And then a thin, cold voice cut through. “Lord, of course this has not been pointless. Even if you’re not the unique Christ; you’ve changed many lives for the better. You’ve shown people a better way. You’ve made us all better, kinder and nicer. You’ve helped us discover the divine in us all.”

“Judas makes a good point” said Thomas.

The actually text can be found here: John 14.6