The last section of Life on Mission is really the place where you begin. To live a life on mission, you need to begin with prayer. The problem is, most of us don’t start there. We end in prayer.
I’ll admit that I have the problem. I love a good problem and when something is presented to me, I’ll try to figure it out. You may have not even asked me to solve your problem but odds are if you told me about something you’re working through I’m thinking through solutions in my head. The trouble with this mentality is when it comes to mission, God doesn’t ask us to solve the problem. He wants us to go and do His work, not go and figure out our work. Yes he wants us to use our skills, abilities and resources, but we need to do it his way and not ours. That’s why we start with prayer. Starting with prayer allows us to submit ourselves to God’s way and it says that we are relying on God’s power and not our own.
There are a lot of things I could say about prayer, but I don’t need to say all those things. All I need to say is that we need to pray.
In Luke 10:2, Jesus challenges his disciples to ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers into the fields. So my challenge this week at the end of this reflection of Life on Mission is to pray. Pray for God to send workers and pray for God to send you.
I have a confession to make. I’m not very proud of this, and in fact I laugh a little at myself for thinking it, especially for when I had the thought. When I was in high school, I thought that I was not being fed spiritually. I was convinced that I had achieved a level of spiritual maturity beyond that of what was being given to me. The problem, however, was that I didn’t understand what maturity in Christ meant. I had grown up in the church, went to Christian school, and participated in Bible Bowl. In other words, I (thought) I knew the Bible really well. I had large chunks memorized and at times could identify the chapter of the story or quotation. I was equating knowledge with maturity. On top of that, I was a good kid. Obviously I was doing something right.Continue reading →
The next step in living a Life on Mission is sharing. This step may be the most intimidating step of a life on mission. This step requires us to evangelize, to tell people the good news about Jesus. On one level, I’m not sure why this step is so hard. Telling people about Jesus should be the most wonderful thing ever. When you find something amazing, you tell people about it. Whether it really is amazing or just a funny cat video on YouTube, you tell people about it, so why not Jesus.
On the other hand, I get it. It’s scary and intimidating. Whether we’re afraid of what people might think or we don’t know what to say, many people find it hard to share the Gospel. We have so many ideas of what sharing the gospel looks like that it’s hard to know whether we should stand on a street corner or start up a debate club. Continue reading →
Recently I heard Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon, the authors of The Art of Neighboring, being interviewed on the radio. The Art of Neighboring is a great book about how to get to know and how to love your neighbors. One of the things that really struck me in this interview (which you can listen to here) was their discussion of loving without an agenda. They argue that Christians need to learn to love their neighbors without the agenda of evangelizing them. I know this sounds crazy considering this is a post about living life on mission and our mission is to share the gospel, but this is an important discussion to have if we are going to take the next step and serve our neighbors. Continue reading →
A life on mission begins with connecting. It starts by developing relationships with the people in our everyday lives. It starts by loving our neighbor. Tim Harlow writes in Life on Mission, “Your mission is to your Jerusalem. The people right around you. THE PEOPLE WHO YOU KNOW! So our mission starts with relationship. It has to start with relationship.”1
So let’s ask the question that was asked of Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Continue reading →
As the uncle of two adopted children and friend of many who have and have been adopted, I can say that adoption has changed my life for the better. I’ve seen the way that adoption has changed lives, and I’m grateful that families have the ability to adopt children who otherwise have no family. Because of what I have seen, it wasn’t hard for me to believe that adoption is one of the best ways to keep children from growing up in orphanages. It wasn’t until I read Orphan Justice that I realized that adoption wasn’t the only way to enact social justice on the behalf of Orphans. Continue reading →
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 1
Consider what disciples were experiencing at this moment. Jesus unexpectedly returned. They thought they lost their leader and the Jewish leaders would be coming for them at any moment. To their surprise, Jesus shows up instead of the Jewish leaders. The surprise doesn’t end there, though. Continue reading →
We live in a fast society. Everything happens quickly, if not instantaneously. While it’s nice to have things available whenever we need them, it can teach us be impatient with those things that need time. Spiritual formation and developing mission are among those things that take time. We need to be willing to take this things slowly.
In their book Slow Church, John Pattison and Chris Smith write about slowing down the ways that we do church and cultivating the patient way of Jesus. Initially, the idea of slowing down church may be off-putting to some because either church is boring enough and doesn’t need to be slower, or there needs to be an urgency with which we share the gospel because the world is in need. The good news is that they don’t mean that church services should be slower, although times of slowing down are helpful, and they don’t mean that we need to slow down the spread of the Gospel around the world. Instead what they are advocating is a less franchised and McDonaldized version of the church. Instead of planting churches that are the same no matter their context or the culture of their local community, we need to take the time to cultivate a church that in some ways embodies the spirit of the community (or the “taste of the place” as the call it) and also seeks to meet the real needs of that community. Continue reading →
It seems a bit strange to say that spiritual formation would be an obstacle to living out our mission as followers of Jesus, but there are two extreme ways that it can hurt the life of mission to which we have been called.
One extreme is to neglect formation for the sake of mission. Living for God and living out his commands are extremely important, but sometimes we make mission more important than everything else. We emphasize living on God’s mission that we fail to spend time with the one for whom we are living. Neglecting formation for the sake of mission can lead to two dangerous things. First, we can burn ourselves out for the sake of Christ. We try to so hard to follow Him, that we take little time to be with Him, to rest, and to take care of ourselves. Our ability to live as followers of Jesus means that we spend time with Jesus. This helps us to grow and to stay focused on Him. Second, this can lead to losing focus on Jesus. Either the mission will become so important that it becomes more important than Christ, or our mission will become self-guide or even self-serving because we don’t know the one calls us to follow Him. We begin to follow our own mission and not the one that Jesus calls us too. This is tragic because we get caught up so much in the mission that we neglect Jesus. Jesus paints a scary picture of what this looks like in Matthew 7:22-23 when he says, “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” 1 Our life on mission needs to be under girded by spiritual formation. Continue reading →
Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 1
And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. 2
One of the biggest obstacles that gets in the way of myself living missionally is myself. By that I mean, I try to do it myself. I may enlist the help of friends, family, and followers of Jesus, but I am trying to act under my own power. Continue reading →