My brother in Christ and former professor, Dr. Stan Granberg, was once asked, “What made you want to start a church planting network?”
With tears in his eyes he relayed his response, “Because I want to see more people in heaven.”
In Luke 15 Jesus tells a series of stories: one about a lost sheep, one about a lost coin, and one about a wayward son. We are told that the return of the single sheep, coin, and son bring the same response: A PARTY. The individuals call their friends together to celebrate and rejoice at return of the lost item. “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10, NIV).
Just a few chapters later, Jesus hammers this idea home: “…The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost” (19:10, NASB).
So why do I want to grow God’s kingdom? Because Jesus came from heaven to earth and went through hell to redeem his people, to literally buy us back from slavery to sin and bring us into freedom through himself. EVERY individual was and is infinitely important to Christ.
But Jesus’s ministry about the kingdom of heaven was two-fold. Jesus taught his disciples to pray these words: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10, NIV). Not only was he offering all people an eternal hope of life with him in Heaven, he was restoring that which was lost in the Garden of Eden, heaven on earth.
Everywhere Jesus went droves of people gathered around him to be healed of the physical brokenness brought on by sin. Jesus’s powerful presence restored the brokenness around him.
And Jesus taught his disciples to do the same, to minister to both spiritual AND physical needs. When he sent them out in pairs in Luke 10:9 he said, “Heal the sick, and tell them, ‘The Kingdom of God is near you now’” (NLT).
From the very beginning, when God established his people (his church) through Abraham, He said, “…Through your descendants all the nations will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me” (Gen. 22:18, NLT). The church is to be a reflection of the glory of heaven for the world to see that they might praise and glorify our God in heaven.
As followers of Christ we are a part of God’s church. Because of the FREE love of Jesus, we love, serve, and bless others. Because Jesus first loved us, we share our confident hope of heaven with others. Because of Jesus, we GO.