Vol 1:11 God’s Mission and the Ministry of the Resurrected Ones

So how are we to be the church in the mission of God? As the community of ones who are now resurrected with Christ, who now are called to live for God, as Jesus Christ lives for God (cf. Romans 6:10), how are we to live? What are we to do? What does God’s mission have to do with us?

In Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17, Jesus not only prays for himself and his disciples, he also prays for all those who come into relationship with God through Christ: “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their [the disciples’] message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17: 20-21).

The church, as it yields itself to be in Christ, as it finds its unity by being in Christ, just as Christ is in the Father, we discover that our reason for being and our reason for acting are rooted in being “in us” – in being united with God. This means we are called to live in ways which matter to God.

The church exists, as we read in John 17, to reveal through our actions and witness that “the world may believe that you have sent me.” The church is not to be about merely doing good in the world, being about our own ministry. Rather, because we are Christ’s, because we are in relationship with Christ, our calling is to participate in what matters to God in restoring humanity and creation – in making all things new.

This is a calling that can easily overwhelm us as the church; it is a calling that might even fill us with fear. We may find it far easier just to do what we think somehow contributes to God’s purposes. Our prayer might be, “Lord, just let us do some good, and may you use that in some way to advance your missional purpose.” It can be a fearful thing to be a resurrection people in this broken world of ours.

For us to live to God in the same way that Jesus lives to God, we need to hear the first word of Easter. The first word of Easter is not, “Christ is arisen,” rather, it is one spoken by the angel to the women in the empty tomb – “Do not be afraid” (Matthew 28:5).

“Do not be afraid,” came before the announcement that “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said” (Matthew 28: 6).

We live in a world described by numerous observers as being a culture of fear – afraid of terrorists, afraid of losing our identities, afraid of someone breaking into our lives, our possessions – just being afraid.

But I do not believe the angel was addressing our tendency to be fearful in a fear-filled world. Perhaps we might rephrase what the angel said – like this:

“Now that Jesus is risen from the dead, do not be afraid to live out what matters to God in this world.”

Do not be afraid to live a resurrection-full life!

Do not be afraid to live as resurrection people. Do not be afraid to live out the mission of God. Do not be afraid to live saying and doing what we see God saying and doing. Do not be afraid being taken hold of the purpose and mission of God in our lives. Do not be afraid of coming across like Jesus came across when he lived out what he was sent to be and do by God the Father. Do not be afraid to live!

Indeed, it is far easier (and safer) to be involved in our own ministries in the world, rather than participating with God in fulfilling God’s mission for humanity and creation. It requires courage that we cannot muster by ourselves, a courage that comes only as we are filled by the Spirit of God in Christ. And as we open ourselves to the Spirit of God, as we open ourselves to being in Christ, we grow in learning, as a people, as communities of Christ, not to be afraid of living courageously in ways that bring resurrection life to a broken world.

I encourage all of us who yield ourselves to Jesus Christ as the people of God in the world to hear daily the first word of Easter in all we are and do – Do not be afraid!

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iMissional.org | Roland Kuhl