Gospel Motivation for Missional Living: Jeff Vanderstelt #T4ACon

Jeff is a leader of leaders and a coach and trainer for church planters. His background includes music, business management, working with youth, training youth workers in North America and Europe and starting new churches. Jeff moved to Tacoma from Chicago with his wife Jayne to begin planting Soma.

Jeff leads a Missional Community, and he serves all of Soma in the areas of vision and teaching. Jeff is also on the Board of Acts 29, a church planting network.

Missional living at the heart is that you live all of life for the mission of glorifying God and leading others to glorify him as well. A lot of people think that missional living is doing good deeds—no, I do good deeds to glorify God and so that we will have the opportunity to proclaim him to others.

There’s no such thing as missional living without proclaiming Jesus. The mission of the church is that Jesus would be proclaimed in both word and deed. . . . The life we live is to be evidence that we’ve been grabbed hold by God, so that it’s obvious that there’s no way we could live this life without Christ.

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. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. . . . but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect… (1 Pet 2:9-12, 3:15)

So what are some of the motivations for loving people in such a way that leads them to glorify Christ:

We are a chosen people. I want to remind you that we were once the “nots”. We were not just orphan people, we were orphan enemies of God. Children of wrath… My hope is not in me, but in God and what he has done in my life. We are, apart from God, children of wrath. But Jesus came and lived a perfect life on our behalf and on the cross, he, who was by nature a child of God, took on our sin, our punishment… Jesus when he prayed his high-priestly prayer, he prayed that the Father would “love them as you love me.”

You and I have been forgiven because of what happened on the cross. He has sent the Spirit into our lives to give us new life… if you don’t know that God loves you, you need to know that you are deeply loved in Christ.

I remember the day my wife and I were talking about our neighbor, she was a widow and a hoarder. . . . I remember she would open the door like this [and squeeze through the door] so no one could see what was going on there, and sit in her van and reading books for hours. And when she learned we were Christians and she started running over our garbage cans. . . .  so one day, my wife came in and said, “That’s it, I’m washing my hands of her; no one can change her but God (which is what he’s waiting for all of us to say, by the way).” So we just felt the Spirit of God telling us, “What if it was your mother?” And I realized that if it were my mother, I wouldn’t be able to rest until I’d been able to help… So let me ask, do you really know that you’re loved by God in the way that he loves Jesus? What would happen if you loved others like they were your own family? Let me ask you something else—what would happen if you started loving the children of the world in the same way you love your own kids? What would happen if you started looking at orphan kids in that way . . . that’s the point of these two days, to encourage us to love the fatherless… Because of God’s love for us in Christ, we don’t have to lie anymore, we don’t have to perform.

I’m convinced that most of our lack of love for other people has to do with our lack of understanding of God’s love for us. We’re not amazed by grace. . . . I want to encourage you, there’s nothing you ever have to do again to make God love you, because his love has been poured out for you.

We’re also a royal priesthood. We’re not just the “nots,” but also the “have-nots.” We have received mercy, given reconciliation that we might be ministers of reconciliation. You and I are all walking around of priests of the Living God, but as the presence of the Living God so that others may know what he is like. Have you ever thought about that? That you are priests—sent by Jesus to proclaim the good news to those who are perishing. Do you believe that?

Is that how you see your life? That every moment is an opportunity for you to stand in the gap, to be a minister of reconciliation? Please don’t do it because of the need—don’t let need ever motivate you. Let the gospel motivate you. The need is always going to be bigger than your heart, but it’s not going to be bigger than your heart. If we’re always talking about the need, but never about the one who meets that need, we’re going to present a false savior. The need should not drive us, but the fact that we have one who stands before the Father right now, advocating on our behalf.

Have you ever marveled at the fact that we’ve got God? The Spirit of God is with us right now. Isn’t that amazing?

I’ve heard a bunch of people saying, God won’t give you anything you can’t do—you haven’t read your Bible. No matter what he gives you—you can’t do it! But he can!

God never calls you to do what you can do—he always call you to do only what he can do.

We are a holy nation. Israel was supposed to live in such a way that the nations would say, “you’ve got the best king in the world . . . because your king chooses people that everyone else rejects.” The idea of being God’s kingdom people is that we are a foretaste of the better reality that is to come. When we’re living this kind of life, and caring for the least of these, the people around us should say, “That’s a great king.” In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus uses this kingdom language… Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. If you’ve read Rev. 5 and 7, and these angels are single, “holy, holy, holy…” They’ve been around him since the beginning and they know that he deserves all glory and all praise…

But when he says, “what you did for the least of these, you did for me,” what you have to understand is that unless you understand that YOU were the least of these, hyou can’t do it. Jesus is the only one who has stooped down—and he didn’t just give us bread, he gave us his body. We were strangers and he didn’t just bring us in but said I’m going to prepare a home for you. We were in the prison of sin, and he came and rescued us from the prison of sin and he put himself under the punishment.

See if we don’t believe all that then the idea of going to the least of these just looks like charity. . . . If the eternal Word of God could take on flesh and come to the earth to serve people like you and me, then what other response can we have?

As we close, I just want to remind you again, don’t hold onto the things of this world. . . . I tell my people all the time, you ‘re the richest people in the world—because your Father has given you everything. . . . and let his love for you motivate you to love others in that same way.

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