Thursday, 5 April 2018

What is mission

The great commission at the end of Matthew is not often considered part of the resurrection story of Easter. But if you really take a look at it all together, you can see how the words of Jesus at the end of the book are meant to be taken in a 'victory over death' kind of way.

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

At a closer look you can see how this whole speech could only be given by the resurrected Jesus. 'All authority on heaven and earth is given to me,' kind of stands out. But the baptism language carries the idea of death and new life as well. He also includes himself 'the son' on par with the Father and Holy Spirit, all connected to this idea of Resurrection. The command to obedience, but also the eternal presence of, Jesus also stands unique to a risen Christ rather than anything else.

Regardless of all this what we have seen is a disconnect of this passage from the resurrection story. Instead this 'great commission' is dissected, discussed, and taught from the angle of mission rather than part of the resurrection story. This is symptomatic of one of the biggest problems in the Christina church today. We separate mission from God's power. We take the resurrection out of the great commission.

In the book of Acts the message of Jesus is spread throughout the world at an incredible, say miraculous, pace. God is sending fire and wind, people are speaking in languages they don't understand, miracles are being performed, angels are letting people out of prison, people are being healed, people are disappearing and reappearing in other places, people are being struck down and everywhere the power of Christ is unmistakable and undeniable. That was mission for the original church, completely tangled up with resurrection power.

Today, I feel like mission is something tacked on to a long list of things that Christians do... sometimes.

Today we often think that mission is somehow convincing, or even tricking, people into becoming part of the faith in some small (or large) way, and then hoping that God will do something once we get them in the door. But from a biblical example mission is the simple consequence of living and being connected to the resurrected Christ. These two things don't really seem compatible. One is about what we can do, the second is about what Christ is doing through us.

Interestingly, I think that the biggest way that we can change this problem practically is the same way that we need to change things theologically. In the same way that we need to make room for resurrection in our understanding of the great commission, we also need to make room for resurrection in our understanding of mission. The question is not, 'what mission are you doing for God,' but rather 'how are you making room for God to work in your life?'

Discussion Questions:
Missions can be a sore spot for many people, even Christians. What are this sore points for you? Would these sore points fit the category of 'our power' or 'Christ's power?'
How have you seen mission by God's power rather than our own power in your life?
What are you going to do or change to allow opportunity for God to do mission through your life?

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