Saturday, January 12, 2013

An Apostolic Calling

Read and reflect on Matthew 6:10. 

Jesus shares a prayer, and shows a way of life, that expresses the rule and reign of God in the present. This isn’t human business as usual, but instead makes visible in practical ways what a life following God looks like. We are still called to this today, and are called to give ourselves to this work of God.

Missio Dei, the Mission of God, is a strong call from Scripture and the historic Christian faith to the primary focus of the Christian and the Church. It is a doctrine that emphasizes the nature of God, the purposes of God, and our role in the redemption of God today. Our work in God’s kingdom, and our living out the call to follow Christ every day, has tremendous implications for the spiritual health of each of us, and for the health and vitality of our church. It is easy to lose our thinking and focus on this basic foundation of faith.

We don’t often use that long creed, the Nicene Creed, in worship though it’s another reminder of our true calling. It is usually awkward to say in worship due to its length and to our lack of familiarity with it. After the confessions about our belief related to Christ and the Spirit the faithful congregation says, “We believe in the one holy catholic and apostolic church.” That’s always been a strong reminder to me of what I read in Scripture as to how the work of mission and ministry was said and done in the past, and of our responsibilities today to share in the redemptive work of God as this present salvation continues to be at work and needs workers such as us.

There are a lot of worthy organizations, excellent non-profits, and wonderful missions and ministries competing for your time, attention, and funds. But there is something very different about working together with members of your church in shared partnerships, goals, and projects. This exciting intangible relates to the work of God in Christ and the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit. We’ve seen it repeatedly through Trinity outreach efforts on international mission teams, in local efforts ranging from feeding people at the Masters Table to working with Family Promise families to working a project in the community. We’ve seen it through the work of the FROGS. And Lydia Project. And we’ve seen it on the national disaster response teams. There are new depths of relationship with God and with each other as we serve together in mission. There is an experiential learning as we follow Christ in practical ways today. There is challenge and growth as we submit ourselves to God, to each other, and to those we serve as we become part of a team and aren’t free to merely do our “own thing.”

Missio Dei reminds us that the mission is God’s and not ours! As we follow the model of Christ we (both the Church and the Christian) become the instrument of mission. We go into all the world and become an incarnational bridge between the individuals, families, tribes, and nations we encounter and the family of faith, i.e. the church, as we express the Missio Dei in word and deed.

Ask yourself: How will I express a Kingdom of God lifestyle this year? How can I best live out the Greatest Commandment (recall Matthew 22:34-40) to love God and to love neighbor?

Pray for Beatrice & Esaho Kipuke serving in west Africa in Togo. They serve in a 3rd world country, a developing nation, in a setting without many necessities and without a “safety net” of any sort, with few resources, yet with tremendous opportunities and many open doors to serve Christ and share the Gospel.

Learn more about the Kipukes: Listen to the podcast at podcast, or go to their newsletter.

If you want to know more about a United Methodist Christian theology and practice of mission see Faithful Witnesses: United Methodist Theology of Mission is a great resource. It has served as a solid launching pad for many of these TOC 2013 devotions. Scott has a marked up copy you can borrow if you want to know more about Missio Dei and our distinctive Wesleyan view of mission and outreach.

No comments: