In my previous posting I discussed the meaning of “mission” and its relationship to God’s unfolding plan for the world. Since we are ‘in’ the world that plan affects us and since we are ‘in’ Christ as believers we play a role in fulfilling that plan. Our role? To replicate ourselves as disciples.
Follower of Jesus, why are you here?
If you’re a Westerner you’d probably think of history in linear terms and think the Bible supports that worldview. In the Biblical narrative the world has a start, there is some history in the middle and there is a description of the world ending. If you’re a non-Westerner chances are that you’d take a more cyclical view of reality and read the Bible from that perspective. There is a “first cause” but it reveals a history that repeats certain things over and over again. There might be an ending but the main thing is to try and learn from the often-repeated mistakes of the past. Yes this is oversimplified and a tad dualistic but let’s roll with it shall we?
I tend to understand God’s revealed worldview more like a spiral. There is a cyclical nature to all things, like the seasons; but the prophets, Jesus and the writings of the Apostles indicate there is a culmination of all things coming.
Mission then is joining God in His work to repair the Eden incident towards a “final solution”. The repair process is made possible via Jesus’ sacrifice, subsequent resurrection and sending of the Spirit to empower His disciples. Infused with the Spirit, the disciples – that’s us – are given the mandate to replicate themselves, thereby extending God’s influence.
At base then, “mission” is: extending God’s influence in the world.
In this posting I would like you to consider a model of mission that encompasses your whole life. I’ll develop it further in future posts and present you with a serious challenge to consider along the way.
Let’s return to the “spiral of life”. Back in the 1640s a bunch of clever Christians in England and Scotland put their heads together to answer a number of curly questions about life in what became known as the Westminster Shorter Catechism. The first question they asked was, “What is the chief end of man?” (Back in their day the term “man” included women too.) The answer they came up with was: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” In our day and age we surf for ages on the “enjoy him forever” part, but for now let’s focus on “glorify God”. That is the end-all and be-all of God’s mission in the world: that he be given the glory He’s worth. How that happens is where the fun kicks in. Bringing God glory should be the most enjoyable thing we do.
The spiral of life is a mission cycle repeating until complete. It starts with God’s glory and ends with God’s glory: GLORIFICATION. From his position of glory, God imparts to us a unique personality and preferences and talents and traits as gifts for us to use in life to which we add skills and experience. He then provides a sense of purpose by revealing to us a direction we should go. It may seem that a random set of events caused you to choose one way and not another, but for a Christian this should indicate God’s leading when you look back on it. That’s a hard thing to consider if life has thrown you a few curve balls, but just remember that God works ALL things together for your good if you love God and believe you are called according to his purposes (Romans 8:28). This then grows into a sense of VOCATION or calling. We’ll return to the subject of calling in a later post.
God’s leading doesn’t cease with what you do though, it should include where you do it. Quite simply, the call of God on your life includes a LOCATION or context for you to be living out the sense of purpose he invests in you. There are multiple reasons why you might find yourself in a place, and we’ll return to that in a moment, but just remember that God is with you always, even to the end of the age, whether you’re on the mountain experiencing his tangible presence or in the desert feeling totally alone.
Wherever God has led you, his desire is that you apply the gifts he has given you to extend his influence in the world. Your vocation, applied in your specific location, should contribute to manifest SALVATION. This is the how aspect of the circle of mission. The bringing of salvation into reality is how mission is worked out, how God’s influence is extended in the world. As I intimated in my previous post, I’m not talking just about getting people to concede some verbal confession of Jesus; I’m talking about salvation in its broadest sense. Sure, salvation starts with a personal transformation when a person believes and steps from darkness into light and life, but it shouldn’t stop there. Salvation should impact every part of life leading to a transformation of society and creation. As more and more people in a location become replicating disciples of Jesus, living out their transformed lives, their community is impacted positively and so too are their surroundings. This impact is the result of the love of God flowing in us and through us to a world starved of it and longing for it. When the world gets a taste of His love and responds positively to it, God is further glorified by the praise and worship that results. And that, is the why.
So to sum up, the Spiral of Life | Mission Cycle is: Glorification (why) => Vocation (what) => Location (where) => Salvation (how) => Glorification… and on it goes as more people enter his Kingdom, discover their purpose, and work it out in a specific place to extend his influence.
Follower of Jesus, are you living this kind of life to its fullest? 👊🏽