“Missio what?” Before our family went overseas, we took a class on the Missio Dei, the mission of God. It was the first graduate level class I had taken and if Latin was required for advanced degrees, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to have what it takes to complete one. Good news was, this turned out to be the only Latin term in the course :-). In this class, Shellie and I learned about the Bible’s grand narrative. We learned how God means to fulfill His big dream of seeing every nation, tribe, people and language in heaven one day (Revelation 7:9-10).
God has been working toward the fulfillment of His big dream for some time, it is the very mission of God.
In fact, the overarching theme of the scripture is one of mission.
Christopher Wright, author of the book, The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative, shares, “the whole Bible is itself a missional phenomenon. The writings that now comprise our Bible are themselves the product of and witness to the ultimate mission of God. The Bible renders to us the story of God’s mission through God’s people in their engagement with God’s world for the sake of the whole of God’s creation. The Bible is the drama of this God of purpose engaged in the mission of achieving that purpose universally, embracing past, present and future, Israel and the nations, ‘life, the universe and everything,’ and with its centre, focus, climax, and completion in Jesus Christ. Mission is not just one of a list of things that the Bible happens to talk about, only a bit more urgently than some. Mission is, in that much-abused phrase, ‘what it’s all about.’”
We see this theme unfold throughout scripture and highlighted in places like Luke chapter 15 with a string of parables about a lost sheep, a lost coin and a lost son. Luke writes, “Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them! So Jesus told them this story: ‘If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away! Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.” (Luke 15:1-10, NLT)
God is in the rescue business, and the church is meant to be as well. Wright relates, “our mission is nothing less (or more) than participating with God in this grand story until he brings it to its guaranteed climax.”¹
As Wright explains, “It is not so much the case that God has a mission for his church in the world, as that God has a church for his mission in the world. Mission was not made for the church; the church was made for mission – God’s mission.”²
You might be thinking, “enough with the quotes from Christopher Wright already.” His book on the mission of God is 558 pages. I am summarizing it with three quotes in two pages. You’re welcome 🙂
The third parable about the rescue mission in Luke chapter 15 is about a lost son. This son leaves home, squanders his inheritance from his father, winds up working as a pig herder and nearly starves to death. Once he comes to his senses, the lost son goes home to see if he can work for his father. But before he can reach the edge of town, his father runs to meet him and restore him to full sonship in his household. You see our heavenly Father expectantly waits for the return of the lost in our cities. He is in the rescue business and He has a church for His mission in the world, to rescue lost sons and daughters.
That rescue mission entails going (Matthew 28:18-20). This is our great commission. That rescue mission entails going in love (Mark 12:29-31). This is our great commandment. Lastly, that rescue mission entails going in love together (John 17:18, 20-23). This is our great collaboration. This was how Jesus modeled the mission for us. He went in love with others as He worked to fulfill the rescue mission of saving the lost.
Our church leadership team knew we were to be more than event planners, Bible and book distributors, and property management specialists. We needed to make sure we were intimately involved in the very mission of God. As we did, we would have opportunity to join in God’s global party.
When the shepherd finds the lost sheep and brings it home, he celebrates with friends and neighbors. When the widow finds the lost coin, she also celebrates with friends and neighbors. And when the lost son comes home, his father puts on a party for the whole town. Scripture tells us there is joy in heaven, a heavenly party, when the lost come home. To join God’s global party, we must bring people to Jesus.
But how do we equip people for this purpose? How do we help people live spiritually obvious lives so that neighbors and coworkers become curious about the faith they have? These were some of the questions our church leaders were asking as we continued to follow Jesus and His leading of Connection Point Church. Questions, God intended to answer.
We’d Love to hear from you!
How have you engaged in the mission of God? Share your comments below.
1 Wright, Christopher J. H.. The Mission of God’s People: A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission (Biblical Theology for Life). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
2 Wright, Christopher J.H.. The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative, 62.