Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Images of a Mission

The grand story of the Bible is that God is on a mission. Reggie McNeal points out to what astonishing lengths God goes to redeem his beloved and crowning achievement of his creation—people. He notes that the central acts of both the Old and New Testaments are divine interventions into human history to liberate his people from oppression and slavery—the Exodus and the Cross.

In the Old Testament, Moses takes on Pharaoh to liberate his fellow Israelites (though Moses is one of them, he is not one of them). In the New Testament Jesus takes on sin, death, and Satan to effect deliverance of captive kinsmen (though Jesus is one of us, he is not one of us.) In both cases the deliverance is not just from something but to something. The Hebrew slaves were destined for the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey. Jesus promised his followers abundant life. Included in that deal is heaven (Reggie McNeal, The Present Future)

Beyond deliverance, God had a purpose for his liberated people. At Mt. Sinai, the Israelites received their assignment from God—to tell the world about Him and to convince them of His love for them. Sadly, the Israelites missed the fact that their “chosen” status was for missional purposes with a clear responsibility, not just an enjoyed position. Israel’s sin in failing to be a light to the world resulted in the world’s slavery to sin and exile from God.

In the New Testament, Peter captures the Sinai assignment and delegates it to the church, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet 2:9).  Through Jesus Christ, the church has inherited the purposes of God for Israel and thus is responsible to broker the relationship between God and humanity.

  • How does the American Church proclaim the mighty acts of God to people who are not interested in coming to church on Sunday morning? 
  • How do followers of Jesus live out our missional calling in the face of a world that is not interested in the organized church?  
  • If 80% of the population in the United States is not going to be reached by churches as currently constituted, how should Christians fulfill their God-given mission?

The answer is in living on mission, as God is on mission.  God wants humanity free from sin and bondage.  If the world won't come to us, we must go to the world.  We follow in the footsteps of Jesus.  We go to the people that Jesus loves.  We live as servants of the King among the hurting and point them to Jesus when the situation presents itself.  We broker the relationship between God and humanity in their world.

Church, it's time to live on mission outside the walls.