Each month we’ll be hearing from one of our Regional Ministers, to encourage us along the way as we continue empowering missional disciples in our communities across the West of England.
I wonder, might this be your favourite verse in the Bible?
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him…” John 3:16-17
These verses sum up the eternal character of God the Father – who seeks out those he loves so that they might be redeemed and restored to a relationship with him. God has always been like this! – and he always will be.
Remember in the book of Genesis, Adam and Eve have turned their back on God and are hiding from him. “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:8,9). When Isaiah had his awesome vision of God in the Temple and he hears those challenging words, ‘Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”’
God has always been the ‘seeking, searching, sending’ God. We see this best of all when He sends his Son into the world, expressed so powerfully in Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of John’s gospel:
“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighbourhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, generous inside and out, true from start to finish.” John 1:14 (The Message)
Having moved into the neighbourhood and at the outset of the mission the Father gave to him, Jesus then declares his plan of action:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” (Luke 4:18,19)
The nature of the Son of God – his outward-facing and outward-reaching posture to the world, and his love for men, women and children are identical to that of the Father. This is how Jesus lived and died and he called his first disciples to that same way of life. So, after the Father has raised the Son from death and Jesus appears to his terrified disciples, we find him commissioning them, saying, ‘“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” (John 20:21)
Those first century disciples of Jesus are the next ‘link’ in this missionary chain – of showing and sharing the character, values, and message of the missionary God. They did this in Jerusalem, Judaea, Samaria and throughout the Mediterranean world. And 21st century friends, you and I are called to follow in their footsteps!
This is how we arrive at the concept of being missional disciples. Chris Wright an Old Testament scholar, has written, “Missional” is simply an adjective denoting something that is related to or characterised by mission, or has the qualities, attributes or dynamics of mission.
‘Missional is to the word mission what fictional is to fiction.’ So when we talk about being missional disciples, we’re effectively saying that we’re children of the missionary God and we’re following in the footsteps of a missionary Lord and Saviour – becoming like him in character and actions. It may sound a bit silly, but when I think of this, I’m reminded of the children’s song from Jungle Book:
I wanna be like you
I wanna walk like you
Talk like you, too
You’ll see it’s true
Someone like me
Can learn to be
Like someone like you.*
(Go on – sing it! You know you want to!)
As we (please God) more fully emerge out of lockdown let’s explore together how we can become more like Jesus in our character and actions.
What spiritual/devotional habits and practices might we need to develop in order to live as 24/7 disciples?
What will it take for me to learn to love my neighbours with the (sacrificial) love of Jesus?
What will it take for me to become less self-centred and more available to others (beyond my own family)?
What will it take for me to continuously remember and act upon the fact that people need the Lord and what he has to offer, and that he continues to love all people and is still in the business of changing the lives of, and bringing wholeness to those who seem far away from God?
*Jungle Book: Lyrics transcribed by Disneyclips.com