Vol 5:2 Don’t Forget About Jesus in Being Missional

Years ago I served at a prominent evangelical divinity school and I heard from not a few graduates that they had lost their devotion to Jesus through their studying at this school. They stated they came to seminary with a passion for Jesus and after three or four years, they developed a passion for God’s word – exegeting it, understanding it, preaching it, but wondered what had happened to their passion and devotion to Jesus.

Getting caught up with all that we need to do in being a missional people, we might find at times we forget about worshiping Jesus, as well – or at least minimize our devotion to him. In attending to being missional, being incarnational, doing justice and showing mercy, we may lose sight in whom we are and whose we are.

It is not only, as Stephen Bevans expresses, in Jesus’ humanity we see God or as he puts it, “God is like Jesus,” (cf. Bevans and Schroeder, Prophetic Dialogue, pp. 11ff), but also we come to realize the way we are to be human in the world is to be like Jesus – the way God intended us to be human is to be seen as we attention to the life and ministry of Jesus.

We do not engage in being missional on our own – being missional is not something that we can develop in ourselves. We are missional because we are centered in Jesus Christ. Jesus, in being God incarnate, is the one human being who was so aware of God’s actions in the world, so in tune with the stories of people’s lives seeing better than they could of how God is at work in them, so in tune with discerning God’s ways in society, that we cannot do better than him in being missional (though he did state we would do greater things when he left to be with the Father – cf. John 14:12 – I have written on this in a previous blog post).

We can try to be missional without focusing on Jesus Christ, but then we would be about our own mission and not God’s. In order to participate with God in God’s redemptive mission, we are called to identify and be rooted in Christ Jesus (hence the significance of our baptismal act – cf. Romans 6).

Therefore, as I stated in a message I shared with the community I serve last week, our commitment to be a nurturing community with one another is rooted in the practices of worship, hospitality, generosity, and witness (cf. Acts 2: 42ff), so too, it is vital for us to be a community that worships Christ, is rooted in Christ, is growing in Christ, if we are to have any hope in discovering the fullness of what it means for us to be God’s missional people.

Worshiping of Christ is not then a secondary practice – it is the primary practice for our engaging in being missional as God’s people. The only way for us to be missional is in the way of Jesus – so Jesus needs to be our central focus before we focus on anything else. May we grow in our identifying with and worshiping of Jesus – the One whom God is like, and the one who shows us what we are to be like.

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