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Called Together:

A Plea for Communal Mission

 By Joel Jupp

 

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my
witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

Acts 1:8

 

 

 

Leaders of governments around the world have long known that division is one way to prevent national transformation. Christians in many countries are severely limited in their freedom to gather, expand or evangelize. These governments recognize what we often forget: community transformation results from communal mission. 


Community is not an end in itself, but a divinely-enabled bond that leads to further mission. Likewise, mission is not astandalone enterprise. The mission is not to draw individuals to an abstract idea, but into the communal life of the Church.

 

Maybe there is deeper significance in Jesus' choice to send out his disciples two-by-two. The Church's mission is rooted in community. Jesus began with 2 followers (communal mission) then 12, then 120 and on and on. A lone-ranger missionary with no communal support is not a biblical model of mission. What a missionary needs most is relational and communal support.

 

Consider Jesus' words in Acts 1:8, "You will be my witnesses." Jesus never commissions individuals apart from His larger purposes. Jesus calls us into a collection of believers and calls these collections to constantly expand the mission.

 

We do not live in the time of Elijah. Although a remnant of faithful ones existed then, Elijah felt that he stood alone against idolaters. We also do not live in the time of Noah. The entirety of the human race depended upon his singular efforts for survival. It is good to remember that Elijah and Noah were prototypes of Jesus, not us.

 

It is easy to overlook the plurality of the word "witnesses" in Acts 1. Early in my journey, I was led to read this verse in an individualistic way. I only saw myself and my calling. I missed the grander picture of how God calls a collective of witnesses for His missionary work. I am called to serve in community and for community.

 

The focus of the Book of Acts is not on Peter, Paul, Stephen, Timothy, Priscilla, Aquila or other wonderful saints. The focus is on the Church as a whole, the expanding family of God.

 

Rather than preoccupying ourselves with own legacies, maybe we should ask, "How are we called?" How does my calling fit within the broader plan of God's mission in the world?  How can I support my brother or sister in their calling (which is really our calling)? What should I stop doing to make room for others to serve?

 

We are not called as witnesses alone. Today, let us boldly and lovingly be God's witnesses together.

 

 

  

 

About the Author 

Joel Jupp is a husband, father of three children, pastor and teacher. He currently leads worship in the Chicago metropolitan area, and has served in traditions including Methodist, Baptist, and Reformed. Joel also teaches at Aurora University, Moody Bible Institute, and Judson University. His educational background includes Taylor University (BA), Ball State University (MA), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (M.Div), and Asbury Theological Seminary (ABD). Connect with Joel via the web at joeljupp.com or on Twitter @joeljupp.

 

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