On Saturday we were commissioned! It was a little bit like a 2nd wedding (!) – lots of friends, not enough time to talk to all of them, vows, cake (and what a cake! see below)… We felt well supported and loved by people helping with food etc and the brilliant turn out, not just from Bethel, but also from other churches in the area.
One of our sending churches, Bethel Evangelical Church Clydach, hosted the commissioning. Charles & Liz Chalmers vouched for us on behalf of OMF. The congregation committed to support us in various ways and join in the work by partnering in prayer for the Japanese and gospel work among them. Meirion Thomas, a pastor in Newport and well-known to OMF too, preached from Luke 10 on the focus of mission: it’s the Lord Jesus, of course!
We also made promises. We confessed our faith in God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We declared that we confess Christ as our Lord and Saviour who calls ALL people EVERYWHERE to follow Him. We promised to ensure that we proclaim and demonstrate the gospel of Christ so that many will hear and understand the good news. We promised to learn from and serve the Japanese Church. We will continue to act as members of Bethel even while we’re in Japan. And we renewed our committment to Christ, to reading the Bible, and prayer, that all we do may be firmly rooted in the love and knowledge of Christ.
A couple of thoughts on all of this.
Firstly, I was struck afresh by the Luke 10 passage. Jesus’ disciples come back from their ‘mission trip’ excited that the demons submit to them in Jesus’ name. Understandably! I’d be excited, wouldn’t you? But Jesus tells them not to focus on that, but to rejoice that their names are written in heaven.
So, when things are difficult and seemingly fruitless, as I’m sure they sometimes (often?) will be, I’m not to be disheartened. I can still rejoice that our names are written in heaven – what a thought! Likewise, when we’re seemingly ‘successful’, we’re not to rejoice in that but in the state of our relationship with God! Regardless of circumstance, we can and should always rejoice in God, that He has made us right with Him! I’ll need to keep that in mind…
Secondly, all those vows seemed pretty heavy. But actually, almost all of it was what every Christian would/should say. On one hand, that’s a comfort for us, very ordinary people that we are. We’re not doing anything much different to being ordinary Christians. But on the other hand, it raises the question of how we are doing in that ‘ordinary’ Christian life:, taking up our cross and following Jesus, denying self, loving Him, hating sin, Bible-reading, prayer, proclaiming and demonstrating the gospel – not just when we’re making promises at commissioning services.
And that is pretty serious (albeit the most joyous) stuff.