Friday, March 11, 2016

Mission and the Life

light, sea, dawn

 "Come follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!" -- Jesus in Matthew 4:19

Dallas Willard was one of my professors and has been one of the most important mentors in my life. His thinking about the Kingdom of God, apprenticeship to Jesus, and the nature of eternal life has made an indelible imprint on my life and ministry.

Paragraphs like the following have caused me to pause and re-think my assumptions about the Christian life:

"As disciples of Jesus, we today are a part of God' world project.  But realization of that project, it must never be forgotten, is the effect, not the life itself. The mission naturally flows from the life.  It is not an afterthought, or something we might overlook or omit as we live the life. The eternal life, from which many profound and glorious effects flow, is interactive relationship with God and with his Son, Jesus, within the abiding ambiance of the Holy Spirit.  Eternal life is the Kingdom Walk, where, in seamless unit, we 'Do justice, love kindness, and walk carefully with our God' (Mic 6:8). We learn to walk this way through apprenticeship to Jesus. His school is always in session."  (Dallas Willard, The Great Omission)

Believing is following.  Following is apprenticeship.  Apprenticeship produces new behaviors and thinking.  This new life in Jesus really is a new kind of life--it's eternal life starting now!  And from that new life flows the mission in the world--to bring others into this new kind of life.

Jesus gave His final instructions to His disciples: multiply disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).  Teach them.  Show them.  Help them experience this new kind of life so they can make other disciples.  The mission flows out of being.  As Willard puts it, "The mission flows from the life."

  • Perhaps we don't make disciples because we really aren't experiencing the new life?  
  • Making disciples sounds oppressive because we haven't really taken up the journey with Jesus and had Him remake our life?  
  • We may have good doctrine...but do we have new life?

Churches will start multiplying disciples when their people are more than just busy with church activities and truly in Jesus' school of life.  As Willard points out, "His school is always in session."