It never ceases to amaze me how many times I hear someone say, ‘This church is different.’ Sometimes they say, “This church is special,” or “This church isn’t like most churches,” but it is the same message. There is no doubt that there is a very real sense in which every single church is different, because churches are people, and all people are uniquely different in God’s creative master plan.
But the context in which I hear these words, they are given as an excuse. I have quoted Emil Brunner before, but I love what he said, and I fully agree with this statement. Swiss theologian Emil Brunner said, “A church exists by mission, as a fire exists by burning.” In other words, quite simply, without mission there is no church. When challenged to the task of Acts 1:8 mission, so many pastors and church members say, “Yeah, but this church is different. ‘We move slowly’, or ‘change doesn’t come quickly,’ or something similar, but always to excuse the lack of moving forward to embrace Acts 1:8.
At least Peter spoke his heart in Acts 10 when commanded to eat what he thought was unclean, when he said, “No, Lord.” While that statement cannot be true (Jesus isn’t Lord if we say “No” to Him), it is at least honest. Let’s get honest about embracing our mission. “I am not willing to do it,” or “it is just too hard,” or whatever the truth is. Let’s not make excuses.
Every church is uniquely different, but no church is different enough to make God’s Word not true. Jesus said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8). That is not a command, but a promise. It is cause and effect. When a person is filled with the Holy Spirit, there are multitudes of ‘manifestations’ that may or may not be present, but there is one thing that is always true. They will be a witness to Christ, and they will do the work of missions in Jerusalem, AND Judea, AND Samaria, AND to the ends of the earth. No Excuses.