Start Small. Dream Big. Act Faithfully. Love Relentlessly.
Since the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Christians for two millennia have sought to live out faithfully the mission of God’s redeeming love. At Real Life, Jeff and I have poked some fun at the popular evangelical trends that seem to be constantly coming and going. Currently, as we have mentioned, the trend is the idea of being a missional church. While some of the contemporary church trends have been more helpful than others, I believe this trend truly speaks to a core tenet of what it means to be the church. At the wake of his departure, just prior to the crucifixion, Jesus prays for his disciples in John 17:
I’m not asking that you take them out of the world. But that you guard them from the Evil One. They are no more defined by the world than I am defined by the world. Make them holy—consecrated—with the truth; Your word is consecrating truth. In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world, I give them a mission in the world.
We see here in this prayer a great challenge to the Church to not be a holy and exclusive club that shuts out the world, but rather a holy community of truth-living agents who are vibrantly passionate about the mission in which we have been sent. Therefore, being the church is as much about being an encouragement and life-giver to those in our faith community as it is about being an encouragement and life-giver to those in our neighborhoods, offices, schools and workplaces. If we want to take this prayer seriously, we must beg question, “What then, is our mission?”
While seeking the truth of the mission in the Sermon on the Mount is a beautiful place to start, an attempt to cover the details of this mission could take days, months or even years of study and reflection (in fact, it took Jesus, the incarnation of God, three!). But in consideration of the story of God, there are some things we glean immediately about the mission of God.
One thing we can see about the mission of God that Christ has given to the Church is revealed to us through the overarching story of the Bible. Looking at Scripture, we see that we serve a God who is persistently moving closer in His relationship to humanity. After the fall in the Old Testament, we see God relate to humanity from above as Yahweh. From then until the birth of Christ, humanity’s relationship with God is connected yet distant, oftentimes filled with tension and miscommunication.
Following the birth of Christ, the incarnation of God, humanity experiences God among us (also known as Emmanuel). At this point, God’s relationship with humanity is restored and revamped, as humanity comes to know Christ as the perfect Groom and exact representation of God. Unfortunately, our misguided views of whom God ought to be, leads us to crucify him. However, even so, God’s relentless pursuit of restored relationship persists.
Following the resurrection and ascension of Christ, Jesus sends his Spirit during the Pentecost event as God moves even closer. Now we have been given the opportunity to know and experience God as we relate with the Holy Spirit who lives within!
We see in Scripture that since the time of the fall, God has been breaking down all the walls and barriers that exist between humanity and God’s self. No matter how humanity responds, God never quits. Because of His infinite love for us, as agents on a mission, shouldn’t we who are the church be doing the same? Taking on the very heart and model of God, always moving closer in our relentless pursuit of those who do not yet know there is a God who loves them and wants a relationship with them. Just as God did, and is doing, we must blur the lines and break down the barriers that separate us (i.e. those whom know God) from those who have not yet heard of the God who loves them.
Therefore, be challenged and be encouraged to go and be missional. Live in the question, “How can I be an agent of God’s mission today?” Make it a habit to consider the practical ways in which you can be faithful in your love for others as God has been for us. This month, start small by committing to loving in small ways. Then allow the Holy Spirit to work as you dream big, act faithfully and love relentlessly.