This Sunday at church was the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae for me. Ever since the launch of “Vital comGroups” and the “Every Member Mission” series, I have felt a weight on my shoulders: what is the mission of our comGroup? Sure, the brownies are nice and gooey and the onion dip is good with chips. Some of Patrick’s jokes are not that bad and that lady whose name I can’t remember—she’s so sweet. But is that all I’m there for? Is that all it is?
We often consider comGroups to be just another social event to connect with friends from church. After all, isn’t that what discipleship is? Peter just shared his fish with the boys, Jesus threw out some questions and cool stories, and they lived happily ever after, right? No! Reducing discipleship to a social event is no better than reducing Jesus’ death and resurrection to a bunny hiding colorful eggs.
Let’s be careful to not merely interpret “vital” as lively and active, but acknowledge its full meaning as critical and urgent. If Jesus and his followers didn’t believe that everyone needed to hear the word, you and I would not be following Jesus today. In Mark 1:21-45 we see a glimpse of Jesus’ urgency for the spreading of the Gospel. First he stood at the local church and taught with authority, then immediately he went to Peter’s house and healed his mother-in-law. As soon as the news started catching on, he chose not to focus only where the fire was, but instead he led his disciples out into the neighboring towns and preached that all might hear. He started inside and close to home but pushed outward.
“Jesus doesn’t stop at the margins of his people – he goes to those who are outside completely and brings them in.” – Pastor Jake K
Likewise, the global mission of the church is to spread the gospel through discipleship. The Jesus life begins at church and ends nowhere – we are not limited, we should not be limited. It starts at our church, with the people we meet and the ministries and opportunities we can serve. Then it should head towards our family, our friends, our comGroup and continue to move outside our comfort zone to reach all. Not a step-by-step guideline, but the movement of the Spirit. Yes, it is not easy. And indeed, daily spiritual growth through the pursuit of the Jesus life cannot be accomplished on our own, but only alongside fellow believers pressing on together.
Which brings me back to Vital comGroups. The mission of our comGroups shouldn’t just be focused on gathering with good Christian friends, but to encourage and challenge one another to pursue the Jesus life with haste and without reservation. This is why comGroups intentionally foster connections between non-like-minded people who push our perspectives and dare us to dive deeper in the Bible and compel us to live our faith all-out. Touching the lepers, healing the sick, reaching out to misfits and sinners, pressing on to love all those who Christ gave his life for, even those outside of our boundaries. The Jesus life is getting our hands dirty together.
I like to tell my wife that when we have kids, I will let them play with mud all they want as much as they want. Instead of holding them back out of fear of the unknown, I want their bodies to get acquainted with the germs and whatever else comes with them. I’ll encourage them to take risks and go on adventures in scary places, to try new things and to treat strangers with compassion. I would rather encourage my kids to have fun getting their hands dirty than to live pressed into a box of clean but boring toys. What I am trying to say is that I would rather teach my children to take the risks and possibly find pain as they pursue what brings them joy, than to give up on joy by merely avoiding pain. And I think that’s how we should think of the Jesus life. Instead of being germaphobes, cleansed once but afraid to get dirty again, we are free to walk in faith believing that Jesus has freely ransomed our lives and has called us to journey alongside others regardless of their backgrounds or circumstances. He continuously calls us out of our physical ease and freedom from pain and constraint, outside our pleasant and prosperous lifestyle, to grieve with others and walk alongside those we otherwise wouldn’t. To love the fallen, and greet the strangers. To reach the forgotten and aid those in need. All for the sake of his kingdom and the spreading of the gospel, our eternal joy and priceless reward.
The Jesus life begins with Sunday but it can’t be contained there. It becomes a daily pursuit. The Jesus life also begins in one place but it cannot be static. It expands ever outward, calling us out of our “circles of comfortable living.”