If we want to accept Jesus' invitation to join Him in His mission (that is, to live missionally), it is important to begin with the end in mind. By that I mean, before we start to wonder HOW we will live missionally, it is a important to settle WHY we will live missionally.
Why are we doing this? What's the mission? What's the end result Jesus is working toward?
As we watch what Jesus does and listen to what He says, He seems to have two overarching goals or missions:
- to be with people redemptively
- to invite people to follow Him as disciples
As we watch Jesus, He is with people a lot. He continually is engaging crowds to bring them healing, good news, hope and value. That is what I mean when I say He is with people redemptively. Jesus brings the redemptive, restorative, resurrecting grace of God to anyone who would receive it. Ultimately, this goal (mission) is the reason Jesus willingly went to the cross. At the cross, Jesus takes away our sins and permanently redeems our lives from sin, death and the evil one.
However, there is another mission in play with Jesus. In fact, we could say that this mission helps the first mission (to be with people redemptively) get accomplished on a local and global level. It is the mission of inviting people to follow Him as disciples. We know this mission best as it is expressed by Jesus in Matthew 28, "Go and make disciples of all nations."
We usually think of Matthew 28 as THE mission. But really it is a sort of mission within a mission. "Go and make disciples of all nations," is the mission that helps accomplish THE mission. "Go and make disciples." Why? "So that more and more people can join us in bringing the Father's redemption to anyone who will receive it."
So there is really only one overarching mission: redemption to all who would receive it. But the mission that is the means to accomplishing the overarching mission is making more disciples, that is, those who can take the good news and redemptive lifestyle of Jesus to other people who would receive it, too.
So, if I begin to live missionally with the end in mind, I am thinking about these two interconnected missions: How can I be with people redemptively AND how can I lead those same people to become a way by which that redemption is brought to others, too?
Living missionally (that is, living the mission of Jesus) includes both: being with people so that they receive Jesus' redemption and being with people so that they take Jesus' redemption to others who would receive it, too. That is Jesus' mission.
This has some huge implications for how we go about our work in congregations, as well. Before we concern ourselves with HOW we disciple people, we would be wise to get clear on WHY we are discipling people.
We begin with the end in mind. Why are we discipling people?
How would you answer that?
(Next time we will offer some definitions that may bring clarity to this work.)