NCMI World Equip 2015 has been so very encouraging. If you don’t know what it is, check out the website. NCMI works into over 80 nations and the World Equip brings churches across the world together to make much of Jesus in one place, during one week. I’m super grateful and so privileged to be a part of this amazing team who work so hard at making Jesus known all over the world.
Seeing guys from Columbia all the way to New Zealand, The U.S all the way to Mongolia and Singapore and further, and from the U.K. all the way to South Africa, get together in one place with one heart and one passion and one God is really pretty incredible. This is Ephesians 2:14,15 in real-time, where one of the promises of God is to bring people together with no dividing walls between them. We often talk about such things in theory. Philosophers love to wax lyrical about this sort of thing. But no philosophy in this world seems to really do this – there’s no philosophy or idea or political theory out there that really seems to be able to bring people together. We can pump out as many world peace songs as we like, but it really doesn’t ever amount to anything. We can speak about how we’re all children of the earth and are all brothers and sisters of humanity, but that still doesn’t seem to change anything. Politicians can tell the nations to just get along forever and ever, but it never really amounts to much, does it? Quite frankly, this requires a miracle of God, and that’s precisely what he has done and continues to do through Christ’s work in our world, who works through the Church. That’s why “He Himself is our peace” (Eph 2:14). Or as Colossians 3:11 says, “Here there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all and in all.”
Holiness is only found in Christ
One of the amazing things about these particular scriptures is that the focus is on Jesus and what he has done, and does today, rather than on some ministry or idea or on our own ability to be moral and good and righteous. I think this is an important point, and one of the themes I’m seeing come up during the World Equip is the theme of holiness. Here’s the thing about holiness, however – it is only found in Christ and not in ourselves. We have to die and have our lives ‘hidden with Christ in God’ (Colossians 3:3). Scripture often expounds on this truth before exhorting us to live lives of holiness. Colossians 3:3 continues into Colossians 3:5, which talks about living a holy life. Holiness is something God gives to us as a gift, and the ability to shake off temptation and give up anything that has a hold on us, is all a gift of God. That ability is never truly our own, but only becomes a reality when we are ‘in Christ’. Being ‘in Christ’ is something God has done, but it is something that we have to live in. The Christian life is not one where we try and be moral and righteous, but rather one where we make every effort to remain in him and only out of that is there any holiness and righteousness at all.
Which is why a focus on Jesus is so important
The main theme of NCMI is to be completely obsessed with Jesus. Tyrone Daniel, who leads this team, has been so emphatic about that. A focus on Jesus makes for a holy people, and a holy people are a people who go into all the world and make disciples of the nations. For ‘holy’ actually means to be set apart for God’s special purposes (the Hebrew word Kadosh) and we’ve been made into God’s ‘holy people’ to ‘proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness and into his marvelous light (see 1 Peter 2:9). We cannot exist for the mission of God because that mission will undo us. The Gospel is not a message where we tell people to tell people to tell people that they must tell people, because there is no message in that! The Gospel is about Jesus!
We also cannot exist for holiness because holiness will undo us. We exist for Jesus, and once we truly exist for Jesus alone, the Holy One, then all these other things fall in place. In Christ we are not only holy positionally (declared holy by God) but become holy in our life experience – and as we become more holy we become more missional, more apostolic, because holiness and God’s apostolic call are tied together. God himself is an apostolic God of perfect love – and the more we live in Him, the more that perfect love of God lives through us. Holiness is God’s love acting in us and then through us, giving Him the glory.
The big challenge for me this week is the question: am I truly obsessed with Jesus? We’ll all say “Yes” very quickly. But we have to pause and consider. We have to ask God to tell us the truth. A love of singing songs to Jesus does not mean that we are truly obsessed with him. Even a love for the scriptures does not mean we are truly obsessed with Jesus. This is a much deeper question than we realise. How much of ministry and life and everything I do is actually about me? Rather, he must increase and I must decrease. (John 3:3.) I know that if I become too obsessed with Jesus I’m probably going to look like a bit of a fool to others, and that is, I think, one thing that scares me. Yet we are to be fools for Christ! (1 Corinthians 4:10.) And then we get Christ’s very wisdom! (1 Corinthians 1:30.) Let our very lives, then, be hidden with Christ in God!