By: Courtney Steltenpohl, Resonate Pocatello
This past year, my husband and I experienced a lot of firsts. I graduated college with a degree in Elementary Education, we moved 8 hours away with a church plant, bought a house, and had a baby. I wish that I could tell you that God’s direction for our lives was clear. I wish I could tell that you we had a “burning bush” moment, but I’d be lying. The only thing that God made clear was the mission. He was clear that there were lost people in Pocatello that needed to be reached. He was clear when He said, “Go and make disciples” (Matthew 28). God could have told us to stay in our hometown and be on mission there. But he instead called us to be on mission in Pocatello.
Many times our life has felt stressful, chaotic, and quite honestly brought several tears. People would ask, “Why are you moving away when you are about to have a baby?” “Don’t you want to be close to family?” “Why aren’t you going to teach in a location where you have connections and experience?” The funny thing is, I would ask myself those same questions!
It would be so exciting to have our son experience weekly play dates with his cousins and weekend sleepovers with his grandparents. If I taught in my hometown, there would be familiarity with the school districts and other teachers. Not only would it be convenient, but it would also be comfortable. To me, it would be a dream! But life isn’t only about my dream. It’s about God’s glory... and believe it or not, those can be one in the same.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
When we become renewed in Christ, our desires become like Christ. We begin to think, act, and live like Christ. As Galatians 2:20 states above, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” Our purpose and mission for our lives changes to Christ’s mission. And His mission is the most healthy and pure one we can imagine. So amidst the chaotic life we’ve created in the last year, God has revealed to me the beauty of living on mission and the health it can bring to a sinner’s life, my life.
1. Mission leads to health by taking away the grip we have on money and possessions.
“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
We moved into our new house with the hopes of making it a place of comfort and community for our friends. The house was built in 1928, which meant we had to do some remodeling. But by the time everything was completed, I instantly found myself trying to protect our home from any damages, dirty shoes, and spills that could occur with college students. I immediately felt this protection of our home that made me scared to invite anyone into it. We decided this house would be for community, but for some reason my sinful heart wished I could take it back. Of course it is good to take care of the things we put money into, and we should try to do so. But I quickly learned that this house is not ours. The money put toward a remodel is not ours either. We should be wise with our money and possessions, but we shouldn’t covet them. I don’t get to take our house to Heaven when I die, but I can use it in a way that brings Heaven to Pocatello. I can open it up to all people in hopes that it’s the very place someone can hear the Gospel.
2. Mission leads to health by exposing ourselves to community.
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20)
When we moved to Pocatello, we were a group of 12 people who knew little to no one in the city. Some of us knew each other closely, while others were starting from ground zero. In a small community like ours, it wasn’t easy to hide, and if you did it’s likely you lived alone or closed yourself off to being known by others. Just about every activity we did, we were in it together. There’s beauty in having a tight knit community. Relationships expose you to others. They keep you accountable from the sin that wants nothing better than to take you down. Relationships make it so you don’t have to fight battles on your own. We were made for relationships. God created a partner for Adam in the Garden. Jesus sent out His disciples in pairs to spread the Gospel. He never sent them out alone. For good reason! Reaching the lost and making disciples pushes us toward relationships with others. So if you’re reading this, I encourage you to make yourself known to the family of believers that are around you.
3. Mission leads to health by encouraging us to live for someone other than ourselves.
“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24)
If you didn’t already know this, we are sinful and broken, in dire need of God’s grace. If we spent every day doing what we want, when we want, and how we want, I believe we’d still be disappointed in what the world has to offer us: brokenness. But praise God we have a Father who forgives us and teaches us to walk in His perfect ways. By living missionally, we have a greater purpose than ourselves. We have Jesus! What better example do we have of service than that of a Father who willingly died for the people who sinned against Him? So that we can live life the way He initially designed it: With Him. In John 13, Jesus gets down on His knees to wash His disciples’ feet. “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you” (John 13:14). We are to serve one another, and by doing so we have the gift of sharing the Gospel with others. We have the gift of sacrificing our time to give time to others. We have the gift of being judged for the sake of someone coming to know Jesus.
4. Mission leads to health by giving us a clear depiction of grace.
“The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” - Timothy Keller
If there is one thing I’ve learned the most while living missionally, it’s God’s grace. I can count on more fingers than I have hands the amount of times I have messed up while trying to introduce Jesus to people. I have forgotten plans with my disciples, stuttered through a Gospel share, burned cookies for Village dessert, and chosen to binge-watch Netflix instead of meeting a friend who was struggling. I have failed, but by God’s grace I can repent and believe that He has given me another chance to walk more like Him.
Mission is healthy because it aligns our life to be more like Christ. If you’re struggling to believe that, or asking if it’s worth the challenges, remember who you are doing it for. He is worth it all.