Friday, July 11, 2008

Pondering "Missional" #1: Scripture

The 1st of 4 posts:

Finished reading through Brother Maynard's 9 missional posts, though I have to admit, I started scanning when I got to V and VI because my brain wasn't able to process it all. Bravo to all of you who can! And well done Brother Maynard! I have great respect for brilliant God-fearing minds, especially those trying to process incarnated, relational, listening, loving, living-in-the-world- community in holistic Biblical ways.

My husband is one of those. He's also always been very "missional" in the way he lives and expresses his faith but we never called it that.

The first passage I think of when I think of "missional" is Matt 25:31-46.

Another passage I associate with mission(al) is Mt. 28:16-20. Alot of evangelicals use it to sum up their evangelical call. #3 at first glance would probably appear less missional. As missional as I see my husband he gets frustrated when he feels like #3 gets lost in the shuffle.

1) Go and make disciples. Jesus did it. How did He it? How do we do it? Friendship evangelism, relational evangelism, probably came as an answer to that question. There may be other responses. This, however, was a clear charge to his disciples. And, we assume, to us.

2) Baptizing them in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. John did that. Jesus' disciples did it. John baptized Jesus. Father baptized Jesus in the Holy Spirit. But did Jesus baptize? Someone surely baptized His disciples in the Holy Spirit. This too, appears a clear charge to his disciples. And, we assume, to us.

3) "...teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. . . "Did Jesus do that? Or more appropriately, how did He do that? Did His disciples do that? How? Contrast the Hebrew law-based faith with what Jesus came teaching. Talk about paradigm shifts! Yet, I get the impression Jesus was operating the way other rabbis of his time operated but I'm not well informed about such things. How do we translate what He did into the here and now? I assume that's what our attempts to define "missional" are all about.

4) "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. . ."That part doesn't change. Thank God!

People have been asking and answering most of these questions any number of different ways since long before I was born, but in my mind # 3 may be the hardest to see missionally unless we see teaching as more than Sunday sermon, Bible Studies, seminars and workshops. Unless we see teaching as more shaping (supporting the things we agree with) and modeling (being good examples), and sharing the substance of the life we love with the people we love. I see Jesus teaching when he sat down and rose up and walked along the way. That approach might seem didactic now but I think it was relational and amazingly people seemed to want to hear what He had to say. Teaching can also be listening - ready with honest responses. The word "response" being different from the word "answer".

Then you have Eph 3:7-12 telling us (vs 10-12 NIV) ". . .His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence." I always read this as demonstrating the wisdom of God to the world but it doesn't really say that. Is it all done? Is it something we have yet to realize? Or is it something we participate in every day unaware? Is there something we need to do that we're not doing? If God's intent for His church "is making known the wisdom of God to rulers and authorities in heavenly realms," how do we get there? . . . "[H]eavenly realms" - can it only be accomplished through prayer and fasting and faithful living? What will happen? What will it look like? How will we know it's happening?

Conversations with people who think the same way we do or with people who can shed more light on the things we already believe are affirming, to say the least. A long-range question: what role does our generation play in this multi-generational epic that we know as God's story? We live it. Someone in the future looks back and puts it into words. Sometimes we walk on with a strong sense of purpose and sometimes we just walk on.

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