This is the final of four weeks spent writing about the commitments we call people to make at Grace Baptist Church: To worship, to learn, to relationships, and this week, to mission. Mission is a buzz word in church leadership culture. For years churches became inward focused, serving the needs of the attenders. Often they were little more than spiritual shopping malls, trying to satisfy the whims of everyone who was already coming. The shift to being “missional” was a welcome change. God is on a mission to renew and to restore all creation. Jesus came to make that possible and now He invites us to join Him in the “mission”.
If we love Jesus, we love the world He loves, and follow in His footsteps by laying our lives down to see the world brought back into the place He desires it to be. That mission is clearly spelled out in Scriptures like Col. 1: 20 - “…to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” Also in Matthew 28:18-20 - “Then Jesus came near and said to them, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
Our motive for joining the mission is clear as well. “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” (2 Cor. 5:14-15) Nothing I’ve written here is new. You can find it all in a quick google search. It’s not new, and it’s a little too generalized to actually get us moving. The question we want people to ask at our church is this: “What does my part of God’s mission look like?” Maybe even more specifically, “What has God called and gifted me to do that contributes to what He is doing in the world?” These questions bring the abstract a little closer to home. They also hit on three key ideas that are important as we look for the way God is inviting us to join Him.
First, our role is linked to the way we have been made. God created us and gifted us for a purpose. Part of identifying my role in His mission is to be aware of who He has made me to be. Frederick Buechner said it very eloquently, “Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world's greatest need.” Often the clue to our role in God’s mission is something that we are deeply passionate about.
Second, even though mission may flow from our deep passion, it is more about surrender than about success. Our work in God’s mission can easily become just another idol and a way of propping up our ego. We derive our meaning and identity out of what we do for God, and His mission gets lost in our own self-absorption. One of the flaws of the missional church movement is we become merely workers for God instead of people who live out His life through us. Surrender to where He leads is the corrective to this ego driven tendency.
Finally, mission is often invisible. God likes to work in unique and hidden ways. Once we realize this we can begin to develop joy in our mission, knowing that the one who sees what is done in secret will reward it. Many times I have found myself suffering from “mission envy” of what someone else gets to do in the Kingdom of God. That refocuses the attention on me and my ego and distracts me from what God is calling me to do.
So what is your mission? Where do you join God in what He is doing in the world? These are vital questions and ones that are worth sticking with until we gain some insight and direction. In the words of the poet Mary Oliver, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”