Vol 3:34 Mission and Getting in the Way of Violence

The horrific happenings of this week with the shootings of 20 children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut not only cause to be angry and to grieve and mourn with the families whose lives have been deeply changed forever, but also foster within me a greater impetus, a greater passion to participate with God in God’s redemptive mission in our broken world.

The need for God’s reign, God’s peace to be manifest results in a cry for the kingdom (using the late Stan Grenz’s words describing what prayer is) when we come face to face with such unnecessary violence in our world. And in praying, crying for the kingdom, I recognize again that participating with God in God’s mission is never meant to be an extracurricular activity, an activity for which we make room in our schedules, an engagement we participate in after we have completed whatever else we have on our agendas. Rather, it is a calling to the way we are to be in the world, what we are to be about doing in the ordinary times of our days. It is in the ordinary times, not the extracurricular times, when we have time times that we are called to manifest the presence, the mercy, the grace, the peace of God – and as we do so, we get in the way of violence, we get in the way of death. Participating with God in God’s mission is not only for when it is convenient for us, but our engaging with God in mission is as vital for us as followers of Jesus as the air we breathe.

As we participate with God, we not only demonstrate a different reality in the world, but we are to be more proactive and engaging – we are to actually get in the way of the forces of destruction, the forces of evil which seek to perpetuate death rather than life. Mission, then calls us to get in the way of violence, in the way of evil in order to reveal God’s presence in the midst of the violence.

We do this by praying. Not just praying after the fact, after the aftermath of violence, but as part of a regular practice, a regular discipline of entering into prayer each and every day – beginning each day praying, “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth just as it is with you.”

We do this by speaking out, acting out the purposes of God against violence, against the instruments of violence, against the neglect of those who are distressed, disenfranchised, and alienated, against the isolating ways of our world which distance us from others in need, those who are struggling with issues of mental health.

Participating with God in mission is not a mere option for our spare time, it is something we are continually engaged in, just as we are continually engaged in breathing. Being involved in mission with God and getting in the way of violence happens long before an act of violence is perpetrated – for the simple reason that violence is occurring all around us, all over the world.

I am reminded of Jesus’ words to Peter after Peter’s confession of Christ as Messiah in Matthew 16. Jesus stated that whatever Peter, and by inference the community of Christ, binds on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever is loosed on earth will be loosed in heaven. Participating with God in mission is a day to day calling in which we bind evil in the world and set loose God’s mercy, grace and peace. Participating with God in mission is what we do to continually get in the way, stand in the way of violence in the world, in our neighborhoods, in our schools, in our families – so that God may be manifest in every hurting and broken life, in every innocent life – in every life.

My prayer this Christmas is that we as the community of Christ may re-embrace mission, God’s mission, as the core aspect of our being human in the world. May the peace of God, the peace of Christ reign!

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iMissional.org | Roland Kuhl