The Reason, part 2

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(Note: This post is a continuation of “The Reason, Part 1”. “The Reason” is an excerpt from the author’s book, Meeting Ananias. pp. 21 – 25. You can order the book from the publisher, Tri-Pillar Publishing, or purchase the e-book here.)

God’s heart beats, and the pulse both draws and sends. As Christ was sent to a world that “did not receive him” (John 1:11), the Church sends her own into a world that does not receive them. Yet it may happen that the body of Christ in a place would cease to draw or to send. When that happens, circulation ceases; the lifeblood pools and stagnates, and the body sickens and even dies. But it is not God who has died, it is the church in that place. For the church to be Church, She must pulse with the heartbeat of God – both drawing the nations and sending Her sons and daughters into all the world.

As the Church celebrates the presence of God-among-us in corporate worship, She participates in God’s centripetal mission activity of drawing the peoples unto Himself. Quickened and nourished by the life-giving and life-sustaining Word and Sacraments, and empowered by the Spirit, within Her breast beats the heart of God – the missio Dei.

Filled and strengthened, we are sent into the world: “As the Father has sent me, I also send you.” (John 20:21, NASV) The life of the Sent One shapes the attitudes, words, and conduct of those who are sent. In His incarnation, Christ became one of us and walked among us. In the same way, those who are sent will want to become one with the people to whom they are sent. In doing so, they come to know more fully what it means to “die to self,” as the missionary learns to step outside of the comfortable boundaries of culture which have defined him or her, and step into the unfamiliar and sometimes uncomfortable lifeways of a new culture.

In His ministry, Jesus brought the full counsel of God to people in ways that were meaningful and comprehensible. Those who are sent will also seek to present the Word of God to the people in meaningful and comprehensible ways.

In His life, Christ did not look to be served, but to serve (cf. Mark 10:45). In the same way, those who are sent do not seek to establish themselves as lord and master, but rather to serve others.

In His death, Christ did not hesitate to sacrifice, giving even His own life for the sake of those to whom He was sent. Those who are sent know that they will be called upon to sacrifice – yes, even to the point of giving up one’s own life – for the sake of those to whom they are sent.

After His resurrection, Christ gathered the believers and empowered them by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In the same way, the participants in God’s mission are empowered by the Holy Spirit, who “calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth.”[1] The goal of mission is not merely individual conversion, but includes their incorporation into the ecclesiastical community. God’s mission is carried out through the church, and leads back to the church.

Where does mission begin? It begins in the heart of God. Its center is Jesus Christ – His death and resurrection. Its end is triumphal gathering of the saints around the throne, “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, …crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’” (Revelation 7:9-10, ESV)

 

[1] Luther’s Small Catechism, from the explanation to the Third Article of the Apostle’s Creed.