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Historically, I see that the church has a tendency to focus on purpose, vision, and mission within the scope of our mission field (in the world, physical realm) without truly dealing with how our other-worldly identity should INFORM AND IMPACT what we do and how we do it. But if we are to take seriously (and literally) what John 17:14 says about our identity that we are not ”of the world”, then we should look at things differently. Instead of first looking at ministry from the perspective of the NEEDS in the world, or physical realm, we are going to take a shot at looking at ministry first from the perspective of our Identity and see where that takes us.  As we do this, we will consider how the gifts of the Holy Spirit can connect our identity as the church and as leaders with the mission.

 

John 17:18 - As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.

 

As we look at this verse, we see that if we are to understand how we are sent into the world, we need to understand how Jesus was sent into the world. We tend to think of our call and mission in terms of the boundaries of the physical world around us and perhaps with respect to the depths of the inner soul life … how we think (mind), how we feel (emotions), what we are aware of (consciousness), and what choices we make (will). It is “natural” for us to frame ministry this way, but when we do, we may be taking a shortcut, because Jesus doesn’t call us and sent us only according to the categories of the physical realm and the human soul.

 

As the Father sent Jesus into the world, Jesus has also sent us into the world.

 

John 3:12-13 - If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.

 

Why did Jesus speak to Nicodemus about earthly things and heavenly things? I thing that He was creating an opportunity for Nicodemus to step beyond the limits of his human religious thinking. He was challenging him to think differently … seriously differently. Then he provides a real-life example of a heavenly realiity that is truly mind-blowing ro Nicodemus to ponder. Here it is in case you missed it when you read the passage ….

 

Jesus came down from heaven to earth and is in heaven at the same time.

 

When Jesus said this He was standing on the Earth talking to Nicodemus (He who came down from heaven) AND he was, at the same time, in heaven (he who is in heaven). Jesus exists and operates as a dual-realm being: simultaneous existing and operating in the physical realm and spiritual realm. How can this be … He is fully divine and fully human: body, soul, spirit. Because He is fully human, His body connects with the physical realm and His human spirit connects with the spiritual realm simultaneously and His soul operates at the intersection of both realms. As a result, He can naturally take those things which exist in the spiritual realm and bring them into the physical realm (manifest them). He was sent, came down, into the world, the physical realm …. from heaven, from the spiritual realm, which he never left.

 

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