Everyone has a mission in life. Every community has something it is called to do. We each have a purpose appointed to us by God as individuals, families, and churches. The word mission originally came from the Latin word to hurl, throw, or send. So in simple terms, the question of what is your mission is a rephrasing of the question of where is God sending you? (or maybe even where is God throwing you?) There is a basic pattern of God's activity that goes like this: God calls, God restores, God sends. While all three aspects are important, the sending is the culmination of one's faith process. It is in following one's mission that one finds one's true purpose in this life.
Sometimes we cling to our old selves and do not see the entire process through. While we may be thankful that we are called by God's grace into a new relationship with God and the world, some may not yet grasp the fact that we may need to follow where God is truly sending us to be the people we were created to be. Others may at times find healing in the arms of God but never trust him enough to follow where he leads. A truly holistic faith as presented multiple times in scripture will always have all the component aspects present. Perhaps the lack of vitality we experience in our individual and communal faith life is because we only focus on a particular part of our faith rather than the whole. So it is impossible to think about your faith in Jesus Christ without dealing with the question “what is my mission?”
Mission as Thanksgiving
In order for mission to be truly authentic to ourselves and give glory to God it must be born of thankfulness. In Luke 10 where we see the nature of Christian mission explored in detail, we see Jesus attempting to engender this type of thinking in the disciples: For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”Luke 10:24 NRSV It is appreciation that helps us keep proper humility and guards against trumpeting ourselves rather than God. Without thankfulness mission can devolve into some self improvement or aggrandizement scheme where we check boxes and pump out our chests to justify ourselves rather than understanding it is God who restores and forgives us.
Active vs. Passive
Mission which flows from our gratitude toward God will always lead to an encounter with another person. The best mission is always a relational one. It is where stories of God’s power and love are shared and received with joy. No truly spiritual mission is an island, it always leads one into actions with others as part of a community. This means that a genuine Christian mission must be active mission. While donating to “missions” is a time honored way of supporting those who engage in the more intensive aspects of mission like spreading the gospel in a faraway land, working with those dealing with calamity or poverty, fighting hunger or disease, what I am advocating is something more hands on for each individual. I am encouraging us all that we find ways of helping others that lead to new relationships grounded in the Holy Spirit. A simple test of whether a mission is an active on or not are to ask questions like: did I hear a personal story from the person directly while doing it?
Mission as Hobby vs. Mission as a Life
As I write this is it “mission trip season”; groups from around the world will move out to where God is leading to help with concrete projects and build relationships. I have participated in such activities in my life and they have been life changing and transformative. I do however want you to consider something a bit more demanding, and that is to view mission more as a way of life than an activity to engage in for a specific period of time. The most important missions that God calls us to are those we work on day to day and week to week. If you have children, part of your mission is being a good parent. If you have a sense of your own salvation in Christ, part of your mission is to share that Good News with those around you. A large portion of what we are about as a community at Holy Cross is to help you find out where you can serve as God is calling you to.
Beginning on the first weekend of July, we will explore some of the different aspects of Christian mission by examining texts from the Gospel of Luke. It is my prayer that together we can discern how and where God is sending us. As we move into the fall, I am hoping that at least some of you will hear God’s call to help build community, pass on faith to our children, serve the struggling in our community through the ministries we provide. It is also my hope that this will be grace for you and that it will help lead you to a more joyous life of faith in relationship with Jesus Christ our Lord.
Keep the Faith,