John 20:21 ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.’ And with that he breathed on them and said ‘receive the Holy Spirit.’
This whole Bible is full of the story of this sending God.
That sending starts right back at the very beginning of the Bible in Genesis 1 and 2 where we read about how God creates humanity in his own image. By Genesis 3, human disobedience and rebellion against God leads to the marring/distortion of every aspect of his good creation – physically, intellectually, socially, relationally, spiritually.
It’s a cosmic mess and Abrahams’ call (Genesis 11) is part of God’s cosmic answer to this cosmic mess. God sets out his desire to partner with humanity right at the beginning. Partnering together as God works out his sovereign purposes. Blessing Abraham so that all people on earth will be blessed through him.
As the story of blessing unfurls, this promise for Abraham becomes a promise to Abraham’s people – Israel. Through the work on the cross of Israel’s perfect representative, Jesus the Messiah, the blessing of Abraham is extended to the Gentile. John 20:21: The risen Jesus says to his disciples ‘as the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.’ With this, the church becomes a bearer of the promises and responsibilities of being this called out/chosen people. A people called to be ambassadors of the one true God reflecting his image wherever they go. A people blessed to be a blessing.
Have any of you heard the latin term ‘Missio Dei?’
The Missio Dei is God’s divine plan that spans the time between the creation of all things as recorded in the first book of the Bible (Genesis) and the renewal of all things promised in the last book of the Bible (Revelations) Rev 21:5.
MD It is nothing less than the God’s cosmic answer to this cosmic mess and it has the whole world as its’ goal, the whole world as its’ scope and the whole world as the arena for the church’s participation. That’s big!
Abraham Kuyper (Dutch Prime minister in the early 1900’s, and a well-established theologian wrote this), ‘there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign overall, does not say ‘Mine.’
God wants his world back!
And that has profound implications for those he calls to partner with him; for each of our churches here in Webnet and for how we understand who we are and what we are here for! We, all of us here, get to be partners in mission – a missional people called to be caught up in this story of God’s sent-ness.
In fact, it’s integral to our identity as God’s people. It’s who we are (chosen, called and sent) and it’s what we are here for (to be his ambassadors, reflecting the image of God, being bearers of his justice, healing, reconciliation and restoration!) In times as disorientating as the past few years, perhaps it’s good to be reminded of that!
Christ, we know will ‘make all things new,’ the ‘all things’ includes every square inch in the domain of existence. The Missio Dei encompasses not only individual people, but the environment, the social, intellectual and economic structures that shape or distort lives and God’s creation.
Participation in such a wide and global mission is essential if the local church wants to play its’ full part in facilitating the movement of God’s grand story towards its’ glorious conclusion. We long together to play our full part, don’t we?
You see there is not a square inch in the whole of Webnet over which Christ, who is sovereign overall, does not say ‘Mine.’
Before we feel overwhelmed, I want us to remember 2 things
- Our primary call is to our immediate local community – but that’s why we network with other churches and colleges (like we are doing today) and together we can serve God’s missionary purposes across the region, the country and the world….
- Whose mission is it anyway? Missio Dei is Latin for the mission of God! If it’s God’s mission, we don’t do this alone. ‘Peace be with you’ said Jesus…..and with that he breathed on them and said ‘receive the Holy Spirit.’
But we do have to keep in step with the Spirit so that the story can move toward the conclusion that God has already written for it. Our responsibility is not so much to ‘keep the show on the road’ as it is to keep in step with the Spirit.
That means letting God change us…individually and corporately.
The Latin-American theologian Samuel Escobar writes that the local church can only ‘witness to the power of God to liberation from sin if we ourselves are able to show by word and deed that we are being liberated from those sins of social injustice, social prejudice, abuse and selfish individualism which have brought our society to the mess in which it is.’
Central to such a life is obedience and holiness – justice, mercy and walking humbly with our God (Micah 6)That humble walking is about constant communion with God. About spending time in His presence letting him nourish us. Karl Martin, a Baptist Minister wrote ‘unless we eat, no one else is going to eat.’ So, to be missional, to be purposeful – it all starts with intimacy with Christ…. all our activity must be rooted in intimacy with Christ….so let’s fling wide the door to Jesus and to his Spirit! Let him right to our lives/to our churches. Let’s bow the knee/surrender all and embrace his will for our lives, no matter what.
Then we will be able to reflect more and more of God’s character to the world. Then we will have the courage needed for the redemptive task of being ambassadors of His forgiveness, healing, freedom, reconciliation, and renewal.
Then we will be better able to discern to what and to where the Spirit is calling us…
Stuernagel, A Brazilian missiologist said ‘It is first to perceive the blowing of the Spirit and the direction from which it comes. And then it is to run in the same direction to which the Spirit is blowing.’ I wonder; am I ready to run? Are we ready to run?
I ask myself – are there things that hinder me? Things that so easily entangle? Perhaps there are things that hinder you/the churches we come from? Attitudes, the structures we work within, the way things have always been, perhaps even fear?
If we are to be responsive and run, we need to be more open to the work of the Holy Spirit so that everything we are and do serves to support, rather than potentially hinder the missionary nature and purpose of the church.
Being caught up in the Missio Dei will be costly – it was costly for Jesus…think about it. The same Jesus who said ’as the Father sent me, so I send you!’ He didn’t promise it was going to be easy.
Obedience always requires sacrifice. We can sacrifice without obedience, but we can’t be obedient without sacrifice.
But we have one another, this network of churches and the college here in Webnet, a bunch of people to cheer us on…it’s wonderful to be part of such a community!
And more than simply having one another, we have the Holy Spirit! He lives in us, works through us and is the tie that binds us together in our partnership for the Gospel. We share in the blessings of the One Spirit who longs to lead, guide, empower and transform both us and the world about.
If you still doubt your part in the mission of God or whether you or your church are enough, remember the events of the cross. Resurrection victory snatched from defeat and death. Jesus raised to life in the power of the Holy Spirit! The risen Jesus says,
‘Peace be with you’ …receive the Holy Spirit!’
 Escobar, Social Concern and World Evangelism in Stott, J, Christ The Liberator
 Steuernagel, V (in Escobar, Page 44)