So we’ve gone to two gatherings and now there are a few more empty seats around us on Sundays. That’s a good thing. We knew that would happen and that’s why we multiplied to two gatherings. We wanted to make room for more people to hear and respond to the gospel, to be in community, and to join us on mission to our city. But it may take some time and it will definitely take our prayers and our willingness to love and engage people with the gospel.
Those empty chairs represent people. They represent friends and co-workers and neighbors that we love and who need to meet Jesus. Those chairs have names on them. I don’t mean we’re going to sell them and let people put their names on them. I mean that each empty chair represents a name that we are praying for as a body. Each chair represents a person we are seeking to share Jesus with. They represent our call to be a gospel-community on mission.
We are a missional church which means that it is our conviction that every Christian is a missionary. In fact, it is my conviction that there is no such thing as a Christian who is not a missionary. And we believe that Jesus has brought us all to Bloomington for such a time as this. I love this city! I love the culture, the diversity, the beauty. But I want to see my city redeemed.
In Jeremiah 29 God speaks through the prophet Jeremiah to his people in exile in Babylon, a big, bad, wicked city full of sin. But God doesn’t tell his people to hide out or form some Christian sub-culture, but rather to move in to the city, sink in roots and seek the welfare of the city. God desires for his people to seek the best for their city, to seek it’s renewal and redemption.
As Christians, we are God’s people living in exile in this world, but Jesus’ desire isn’t that we form our little Christian-subcultures hiding out from the big, bad, sinful city, but rather Jesus calls us to move in, sink our roots, and seek our city’s renewal and redemption through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This isn’t the work of pastors and church staffs. It’s the work of every Christian, the work of the church as a community. 1 Peter 2:9-10 says: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
As the church, as a community, as God’s people, we have been called to proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into marvelous light. We’ve been shown mercy that we might bring His mercy to our city. We’ve been made ambassadors, missionaries of Jesus Christ. I pray that as we see those empty chairs on Sunday we would see names, we would see the faces of friends, neighbors, co-workers, the people that you meet everyday that need to encounter the saving grace of Jesus.
Let’s keep praying for our city, praying for renewal and redemption. Jesus has brought you here for such a time as this. You don’t work in that office, go to that class, live in that neighborhood/apartment/dorm for no reason at all. You’ve been sent on mission with the gospel, not some time later down the road, but right now. So what are you waiting for? Who are you praying for? Who are you seeking to love and serve and share the good news of the gospel with? Let’s pray by God’s grace and for His glory that He would use us together to fill those empty chairs with new believers in Christ.