“Win the lost; pay the cost – Kingdom resources for kingdom business….” What exactly does that mean? This is the mission statement of the Wilmington First Pentecostal Holiness Church. A mission statement is supposed to be a statement of your reason for existing as an organization. If “win the lost, pay the cost” is our mission statement, it comes very near saying that we exist as a church, because we are committed to winning unsaved people to Christ. One thing is for sure there are hundreds, if not thousands of people in New Hanover that do not know Christ personally, and who are not focused on salvation. Their lives consist of what it going on in the now, and they have no ambition beyond their jobs, their retirement, their family and family needs. Some have no ambition beyond material advancement, greater wealth and security in terms of the things of this world.

Along with a lack of knowledge about of Christ, goes a spiritual emptiness that most people will not openly confess to other people, but that gnaws at them in the quiet moments when they are alone. All people tend to want to know what life is all about, what its purpose is, why they are here and what lasting good there is in passing through this world. Somehow the question of what permanent legacy we leave behind or can build through our lives plagues all of us at some point. The homeless man that dies in the abandoned house, who everyone knows, because they seen him on the streets almost every day, has left nothing behind to be remembered. We have simply forgotten him. The old war veteran, who fought and struggled as a young man to preserve the freedom of his nation, dies with a very few family members around, with a few medals, a flag and an electronic trumpet playing taps at his graveside. The politician, actor, famous musician or leader, in the limelight all of their lives, acclaimed, fawned over, exalted by the media, die in bed behind the closed curtains of a mansion, on a cold and blustery night, with a hollow face, and in pain from cancer, just like the lowliest of their fans and patrons – and when they do, everything they did seems meaningless and empty.

The problem is our world cannot provide us with a permanent, lasting meaningful reason for our existence, that we can embrace and say, “This is why I lived, and I am satisfied with my life, now that I must die.” The reason it cannot, is because when a life is cut off, great or small, the world continues in its course. And for the most part it seems to be headed for a final disaster, which no one, it looks like, has power to stop or prevent. One day the world will blow up in our faces – or so it seems! Everyone is looking for a kingdom, a great brotherhood of humanity, where everyone is valued, loved, provided for, happy, free and feels useful; a kingdom that satisfies the need for our lives to have both meaning and purpose, as well as pleasure and joy. So far, such a kingdom has eluded us and our best minds and strongest wills, cleverest people, greatest advancements and most noble achievements have not delivered on the myriads of promises that have been made to humanity over the centuries…. Except for one, maybe, a promise made by a Jewish prophet 2000 years ago, who said, “Come to me all of you who are weary and burdened down and I will give you rest!” (Matt. 11:28). A deep down rest, a sense that life has meaning and satisfaction, as well as significance and victory over the sorrow of this world, was offered by Jesus to anyone and everyone who came to know him personally. He set the meaning of life and final rest and satisfaction in the context of knowing him and knowing his Father. Learn of me he said and I will exchange the heavy burden of living in a pointless world of strife and pain, for an easy yoke and light burden! Relief from the meaninglessness and weariness of life, Jesus said, can only come to an end when we discover and submit to call of the creator, who made us to know him and conduct our lives in fellowship with him. It turns out that meaning and rest, satisfaction and joy, have eluded us because we have lived outside of the realm of God’s original intention that is of knowing him, of having a relationship with the one who created us in the first place, with the express purpose in mind of have a relationship with one another. When life is lived in repudiation of the original purpose and mandate it fails to deliver the satisfaction and meaning we crave! The world is living in contradiction and repudiation of its original design purpose, and as a result we find life and intolerable burden and meaningless journey.

The rest Jesus offered is a rest for our souls. It is an inward, deep and personal satisfaction with life, and a sense of victory over the constant uncertainty and struggle we face with life in this present world. It is not the absence of trouble, as least not yet, but it is a different way to live! Jesus said that what he offered was an exchange of yokes and burdens, not free ride. In another place he told his disciples that they should take up their cross and follow him (Matt. 10:38; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23). By this he meant that there was a price to be paid for becoming one of his disciples, and the cost could be extreme. Nevertheless, even with the cost of becoming a disciple, life knowing Christ is engaging because of the relationship with him, and satisfying, restful, meaningful, and ultimately victorious (cf. 1 Cor. 15:50-58)! Jesus made a supremely important statement to his disciples, shortly before his death, and it is the basis for his offer of salvation, for rest and for meaning in life. He said to his disciples, that in the world they would face troubles, including persecutions, everyone suffers troubles in general, and his disciples were no exception; but the good news is, he said, “I have overcome the world” (John 16:33)! Jesus did something to rob the evil of the world and the disappointments, sufferings and pains of their permanent destructive power. He died on the cross to atone for sin and then he rose from the dead to obliterate the power of death (cf. Rom. 5:9-11)! Although you will be touched by trouble, Jesus said, these will not define your life! You life will be defined by eternal life, deliverance, joy, love, grace, victory over sin, a relationship with God that is close and intimate and righteousness as a mark of character and integrity. It is in this sense that Jesus offers rest, a permanent life of victory that transcends the things that hold the rest of humanity (those who does not know him) captive to a sense of emptiness and in imprisonment, without hope beyond their own physical existence! At the same time, to live under the canopy of such hope and to be joined to him in relationship through reconciliation because of the cross, means that even now enduring the troubles of this life is lighter and easier than it was before. We know him, and he has liberated us from the vanity of a world that grants us no permanent hope.

“Win the Lost – Pay the Cost” means that our mission is the same as Christ’s, to take the message of rest and deliverance to a lost world, and to make them the same offer he did. It means that our business is the same as his business; it is to rescue weary humanity from sin, so that people can “learn of Christ,” and live a life which has eternal hope at its core; and through knowing Jesus, it reduces the troubles of this world to a light burden and an easy yoke. Our resources cannot be squandered on the “organized church” as an institution, because they are kingdom resources and as such they should be used for kingdom business. The business of the kingdom of God is to rescue the weary, and to help them find rest, by finding Jesus.

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