Back in the Fall of 2014, I had become a bit disillusioned with the attempts that my friends and I had been making to stay engaged and share our faith with the community around us. We are a part of a house church network that includes groups in Isanti, Cambridge and St. Paul. For the last six years we have been exploring what it really means to build our lives around being a follower Jesus Christ. We notice the importance of having “rhythms” of:
- Listening for the voice of God in prayer; (worship)
- Reconciling family relationships; (kinship)
- Friendships that help us follow Christ; (discipleship)
- Living in community with other “followers”; (fellowship) and,
- Sharing how God has changed our lives. (apostleship)
Now, I realize that the word “apostleship” carries a lot of baggage for most of us, but as we studied more about that word we discovered that its real meaning referred simply to being a “messenger” – that it was used to describe someone who is “sent” out with a message. So even when it was used to refer to the twelve original disciples of Jesus, it referred only to the fact that they had personally “witnessed” the life and ministry of Jesus from the time of His baptism through to the point of His crucifixion and resurrection. The first paragraph of the book of Luke describes these guys in an interesting way: They are called “servants of the message”, or literally “under-oarsmen” of the message about Jesus.
This got us thinking about the “message” that everyone who has been changed by Him carries around inside. Even though we did not see His earthly life, we have seen enough of Him to convince us of who He is. We know that we are not the same because of Him. Would it be too much to say that we too are “under-oarsmen” of that “message”? – That we too are rowing along, creating movement by sharing what has happened to us?
We have mostly thought of “evangelism” in terms of a program, with an “evangelist” speaking from a stage and convincing people about a certain theology. But that’s not what we saw Luke describing – We discovered instead that the “message” is our own changed life, which proves that we carry something in us that is real and living. It has the power to change us – not just give us a ticket to heaven, but to bring “heaven” to earth – into our lives and the lives of others. It has turned everyone who has encountered the love of God into a piece of the “message”.
Finally, in sharing our own stories, we noticed that this was how most of us experienced the love of God in the first place – through someone else who was not too different than we are, and realize it or not, we had also become a part of “the Message”.