Like the seesaw at school, our challenge is to hang on (John 15:5) while embracing Jesus’ commission and evade distractions.
Certainly, God has this church in His hands (Matt. 16:18). Remember how God protected His people from the curses of Balaam (Num. 22:12)? However, there is no question that the church has met [SP1] with growing pains in its path. We have encountered “ology” crises (Christology, ecclesiology, eschatology, soteriology, etc.) and conflicting practices with wedding bands, worship styles and women’s ordination. The enemy of souls relishes the “divide and conquer” method in these struggles. We naturally focus on ourselves, our needs, our wants, our desires, which distracts us from the Three Angel’s mission (Rev. 14:6‒12). I believe our church’s main agenda today should be seeking a balanced approach to mission.
During my elementary church school days, recess included riding the teeter-totter. Lest I suddenly become airborne and fly off the ride, I gripped the wood and balanced myself to ride with my classmate. The motion was stimulating, but I hung on tightly, enjoying the ride.
Take this balance metaphor from the school to the church. With all of the issues circulating around us, shouldn’t we reconsider a balanced approach to mission? Sometimes we surge ahead with a particular program, current news interpreted by “my” prophetic understanding, a nuanced doctrinal strain, or a model of church ministry causing imbalance or lack of movement. How rapidly mission can be jeopardized by side issues. I can envision the devil and his imps taking their victory laps around the church and school playgrounds when this happens! However, please understand, balance does include dialogue on issues.
What would you think of this sermon title? “Both/And, Not Either/Or.” A seminary professor planted this balance concept in my mind over forty years ago! Why the delay in preaching this topic? Probably because I also needed to develop this message for myself. Our Seventh-day Adventist message calls us to be a people of biblical balance in our mission. Matter of fact, lack of balance has influenced us to follow the teeter-totter to extreme highs or lows in our practice and proclamation of mission.
Note John the Revelator’s example of “Both/And, Not Either/Or” which features our unique mission as a church. Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus (Rev. 14:12). We endorse both the keeping of the commandments and the centrality of the faith of Jesus. These two points of faith keep us balanced in our mission.
Jesus’ mission also included balance. John testified of Him coming as the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Friends, it’s not a matter of one or the other, but both grace and truth. These qualities in Jesus’ mission come packaged together. Jesus Himself appealed to Thomas for complete balance. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6).
Calvary displayed the balance of Jesus’ mission. “The mystery of the cross explains all other mysteries. In the light that streams from Calvary, the attributes of God which had filled us with fear and awe appear beautiful and attractive. Mercy, tenderness, and parental love are seen to blend with holiness, justice, and power. While we behold the majesty of His throne, high and lifted up, we see His character in its gracious manifestations, and comprehend, as never before, the significance of that endearing title, our Father” (GC 652, italics supplied for emphasis). Jesus’ salvation gift blends both mercy and justice. God’s justice is also Good News along with His mercy; because it tells us He will not permit Planet Earth to unravel in destruction, but that He will soon settle the Great Controversy. We don’t have to fear His final judgment. (Dan. 7:22; Rom. 9:28; Rev. 12:10‒12)
At the Cross, we have a marvelous demonstration of Jesus’ balanced mission.
Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed (Ps. 85:10).
My friends, the gospel seed still sprouts. In 2005, researcher Elaine Solowey planted a 2000-year-old date palm seed which was discovered in an enclosed hot, dry jar atop Masada. But today, that tree is more than four feet tall and blooms annually (Clouzet, In the Name of Jesus, 2020). The Good News may be 2000 years old (see 1 Pet. 1:10), but we continue to plant the seeds (Matt. 13:8), and God gives the increase (1 Cor. 3:7).
The United Cry Prayer Summit, March 6‒7, depicted missional balance. Church members and leaders of the five Lake Union conferences assembled in Indianapolis, seeking the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Fervent seasons of prayer ascended to heaven. I’m confident the Lord heard our prayers. Prayer can unite us in a balanced mission.
Whose agenda are we on? When we’re tempted to take sides on an issue, will we stay true to Jesus’ mission (Matt. 28:18‒20), or digress into our own mission? Will we continue to seek the lost and tell them about a soon coming Savior? or will we choose to flounder in imbalanced side trips? I confess I’ve been guilty in embroiling myself in nonessentials. However, when I engage in ministry for others, these side issues evaporate.
Like the seesaw at school, our challenge is to hang on (John 15:5) while embracing Jesus’ commission and evade distractions. His mission addresses much more than a playground; we’re the theater of the universe. Heavenly spectators anticipate our participation (1 Cor. 4:9). Of this we do know. The Holy Spirit will descend in Pentecost II (Acts 2:17, 18). Christ’s prayer will be fulfilled (John 17:18). The mission is unstoppable. The appeal to our hearts? Will we “hang” onto a balanced mission?
Jesus’ Olivet discourse will come to fruition. “But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:13, 14).
Seeking His Balanced Mission.
Jesus is coming soon!
Steven N. Poenitz, Lake Union Executive/Ministerial secretary