The Discipleship Adventure – Indiana Jesus and the Kingdom Commission

Dear friends in Christ, adventure is on the air!

So dress for the feature presentation. Cue the music!

(Indiana… theme)

(Jacket & hat.) Are you ready? Really ready?

Not for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (yuck),

but for Indiana Jesus and the Kingdom Commission.

One’s a fantasy. The other’s forever.

One’s all imagination. The other’s truly divine.

One will enthrall a new generation of teens and thrill-seekers momentarily.

The other is worth bathing in, and will set us on the adventure of a lifetime.

Let Hollywood have its unlikely hero, Indiana Jones.

His story’s a blockbuster in waiting.

Let us cling to our unlikely hero, Indiana Jesus.

His story is a miracle in motion.

(Remove jacket & hat.)

Let’s not get too enthralled with sound effects and visuals, fun that they are. Let’s not make the message a movie review. Let’s put the lessons of the day right up front. Jesus Christ has invited us into a vital adventure. It’s more exciting than the most adventurous of our make-believe adventurers. It’s not the way to mere treasure, or earthly powers, but to life eternal. It’s a thing so amazing and blessed, we bathe our children in the promise and the hope of it. Our Indiana Jesus is a real adventurer. A true savior. The sign of his kingdom’s no dead head (even of crystal); it’s a living heart. Folks may not flock to the sight of his hat. (Music) His cloak is no leather trademark. And his theme song has a different sound altogether. (Blessed Assurance)

We’ve had decades-plus with Indiana Jones. The first disciples had three years with Jesus. Both have been greeted in the same way. “When they saw him they worshiped him; but some doubted.” (Mtt. 28: 17) Indy’s appeal lies in whip-cracks and concocted theories. Athletic antics, pretend knowledge, confected charm don’t hurt. Special effects either. In the end, Indy’s about Indy, and a good show. Jesus is different indeed. His Word, not his whip commands our attention. He knows what he knows as only God knows. He doesn’t grasp for himself but reaches out for others. And when he summons us to follow him, from babes in arms to grandmoms at 102 (Ellen), he continues to carry the same word. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.’ (Mtt. 28: 18) There follows not some phony Kingdom based on crystal crania, but a commissioned Kingdom based on the power of the Commissioner! Only Jesus, who comes from heaven and is now returning to heaven can translate heavenly power into earthly power. Jesus’ commission to the disciples, the church, us, has power because of who Jesus is! What Jesus asks of us, the way he directs our lives as he parts from us, also has power because it’s purpose-driven. He gives us a reason-for-being so we will have a way-for-doing. You don’t have to buy Rick Warren’s best selling Purpose Driven… books. Oh, it’s also become pretty popular in business and elsewhere for folks to have coaches. Their job is to keep us focused on “intentionality.” (That’s a $250/hr. word for purpose.) But, you and I and our Society-of-Andrew-and-Martha-folks and Baby-Connor don’t need a book or a coach. We already have Jesus. And he has already given us our commission. Our marching orders. The yard stick by which we measure how we’re doin’ by what we’re called to do.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age." Mtt. 28: 19-20

Go therefore: The New Testament language is stunningly simple and spiritually urgent. Here’s what baptized folks are commissioned to do. GO! Jesus’ authority translates into spiritual power for his followers. We only get to keep the Word by giving it away, to enjoy the promises by sharing them. May our young friend Connor not experience what another young believer did. A girl (about 8) returns home from Sunday school. She tells her mother of her disappointment with the class’s reaction to the day’s lesson. “Teacher said Jesus asked us to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations.” “What’s wrong with that?” asks mom. “Nothing,” says the child, “But right after that all we did was just sit down!” The great adventure Jesus offers begins with getting up, not sitting down. ‘Doing something for Jesus and for God you would not have done otherwise. Being who you might not have been, risking what you would have otherwise held tight. Today, we celebrate those who have inspired us by their gifts for God. (Society) We ask parents, godparents, family, the whole church, "Will you teach this child to follow Jesus?” What better day to ask each other, “How’s it going with your going to make disciples?”

Make disciples: What does it mean to be a disciple? Just this. Not more. But not less either. It means to become more and more like Jesus. Christ-likeness. That’s the thing. So today’s a good day to ask how we’re doing at disciple-being and disciple-making. Could anybody mistake you for Jesus these days? [Hannah] Is your life-partner or closest friend more like Jesus because of you? Are your children? Your extended family, friends, coworkers, neighbors? Your Starbucks barista? How about (y)our church?

Go make disciples of all nations: Jesus will ask us more and more sternly as our personal and church budgets shrink. He will ask of our prayers and perspective, how big is the world where you will labor personally to take my name? To his credit, my nephew served as a missionary in Cheng Du, China. To his sorrow, hands in the quake zone were hands he held. Is there any way I can say the same? Or in Myanmar, 5X the tragedy of China, yet all but off-the-news for lack of photographs. An Indiana Jones will never bring relief here, with or without possession of supposed treasure. Indiana Jesus? Ahh, that’s different!… But only as we make it so. Still, Jesus calls us to be more than relief workers. We are commissioned to…

Baptizing: Make no mistake, today or any other. Dipped or sprinkled, adults or infants: baptism communicates belonging. What part do you and I take in the ministry-of-belonging? The ministry of welcome… in our church, but in our homes, too, and in our community… especially to folks we perceive somehow to be “not like us”? No program can make a church or neighborhood warm, or connect the unconnected… only people can. And disciples chief among them. How are you doin’? How am I?

Teaching them. That’s the crowning task. Nobody needs a degree for this. Or training. Or more than the slightest spiritual gift. We require only knowing something of Jesus, experiencing something of Jesus the other person hasn’t yet. (Blanche to Lorraine, O2 off, “I’m gonna be alright.”) As Barnabas taught Paul and Paul taught Timothy, so with us. Everybody needs a teacher/Barnabas. Everybody needs someone to teach/Timothy. Let the older mentor the younger. The younger, the youth. The youth, the children.

We’ll have to wait for the movie, I guess, to see what Indiana Jones leaves behind when he’s done with his latest adventure. But we already know about Indiana Jesus. He leaves the Spirit. With us always, himself, really, even to the end of the age! His commission conveys a Holy, hands-on Kingdom. A Kingdom of enduring promise. There (Rev. 21: 3-5), “The dwelling of God is with men (and women and children). God will dwell with them, and they shall be God’s people, and God himself will be with them. God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” And the Lord who sits upon the throne says, “Behold, I make all things new.”

Now this is a real adventure. The realest of all! So no matter how cool the hat, or happenin’ the coat, or stirring the music others might offer, from Connor-the-Baby to you-at-your-age, let this be your true adventure. And let Christ be the true action-hero of every baptized soul!

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