Vol 4:4 Mission and Jubilee: Demonstrating a Radically Different Reality

Last week I and another member of our pastoral team spent a week at AMBS (Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary) in Elkhart, IN attending the Pastor’s Week conference focused upon The Spirit of the Lord is Upon Us: The Immeasurable Dimensions of Jubilee. Jubilee, as it is presented in Scripture, engaged in 3 programs. In Deuteronomy 14 we read of a program which was to happen every 3 years in which 10% of all trade and business was to be collected for distribution to the poor. In Deuteronomy 15 we read of a program which was to occur every 7 years in which debts were to be cancelled, slaves released, as well as providing a year of rest for the slaves, animals, and the land. Then every 50 years, as described in Leviticus 25, the year of Jubilee was celebrated in which debts are cancelled, slaves released, and also all properties which had been bought returned to their original owners. Whether Jubilee was ever practiced in the Old Testament is debatable – perhaps during the time of Josiah, however, Jesus came to inaugurate the year of Jubilee to the extent that every day is to be Jubilee – in which people are set free and debts and sins are forgiven (cf. Luke 4:18ff).

It became clear to us in our discussions that Jubilee is only possible when the Spirit of God is present in the people of God to live in ways which demonstrate the present reality of God’s reign having come – for the way it is in heaven, so also on earth. Jubilee can never be merely our actions – we are incapable of living out Jubilee on our own, we need the empowering of God’s Spirit. Jubilee is an act of the Spirit living and working through the body of Christ.

In that sense, being involved in mission with God is to be involved in enacting Jubilee. Again, we participate with God in God’s mission in order to participate with God in fulfilling the purposes of God in creation and in humanity in order to make all things new. Mission and Jubilee focus on guiding creation and human life to be lived under the rule of God.

This leads to a very different feel to mission – mission is not only something we do on behalf of others to bring them into the kingdom, we are called as the people of God to demonstrate a different way of engaging in economics, a different way of participating in business, a different way of stewarding the earth. For example, the speaker for the week, Dr. Kim Tan, shared a dream that every 3 years every church would gather together 10% of all they owned – church property and the property of church members – and offer it to the poor in order to provide for needs and redistribute wealth. Living missionally, is more than adding mission to our current lifestyles, it challenges us to live radically different in such a way that our lives and our ministering are in harmony with the purpose of Jubilee.

Often engaging in mission, can be something we do, as I mentioned in my last posting, in the left-over hours of our week, however, living in light of Jubilee challenges us to live out the Gospel in our lives during the primary hours of our lives. Such a challenge is overwhelming, unless we give space to the Spirit of God in our lives, for the Spirit to not only have access to our lives, but for us to yield to the Spirit, so that we may be empowered by the Spirit to live radically different kinds of lives – lives which are shaped by Jubilee, lives which give shape to practices of Jubilee, lives which in engaging the practices of Jubilee participate with God in making the Gospel of Jubilee an inbreaking reality in our world. Such an inbreaking reality has the opportunity of transforming our whole world – economically, politically, socially, as well as spiritually.

May we have the courage to be open to the Spirit of God so that we may live missionally, so that we may live demonstrating Jubilee each and every day.

iMissional.org | Roland Kuhl