What moves me to be missional is much more than being obedient to God’s call upon my life – it is catching glimpse, catching a sense of what God sees and feels in encountering a broken world. One of my mentors – Ray S. Anderson, used to remark that the world does not set the agenda for our ministry, rather God does. Our ministry is first and foremost to God, and what touches the heart of God then becomes what touches our hearts.
Over the past few days I have heard stories of affected hearts, broken hearts, struggling lives, situations which seem to have no resolution in sight. And as I listen, I have experienced within me a sigh or a cry for God’s reign, God’s presence to be with these persons, in these situations. The reason for this sigh or cry, I think, is somehow sensing, not God’s exasperation with the situation, but God’s longing for healing, wholeness, peace, strength to be manifest in these person’s lives. It is a sigh or cry of deep love – wanting what is brings comfort and hope to those who are struggling and despairing.
Being missional is more than participating with God in God’s mission – if we regard this mission merely as a task in which we engage; it is a participation in God, sensing the heart of God, the compassion of God, the concern of God, somehow sensing the love of God. It is a participation in God’s deep identification with humanity – we who have been created in God’s image.
We are sent into the world, not to merely do ministry, but we are sent to give flesh to the concerns, emotions, desires of God. Just as Jesus was the visible image of the invisible God (cf. Col. 1:15), just as Jesus has made God known to us (cf. John 1:18), so too we have the opportunity of expressing the compassionate presence of God as we live missionally.
What motivates my being missional then is God’s love – especially as I sense it being expressed as I am privy to conversations with people in need. Somehow I am not only hearing these stories with my ears, I realize God is doing more than listening in as well and in doing so, I experience a sense of God’s heart, God’s compassion, God’s love for this person. Being missional, therefore, involves my whole self with what I am discovering about God’s love for all humanity.
In light of this, I begin to see a verse that has often been misused to be an expression of God’s missional compassion and love – into which we are invited as we sense the heart of God: “for God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish (be overcome by struggles, discouragement, hopelessness) but have life that never ends. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save (set free, heal, make whole) the world through him” (John 3:16-17).
What moves me to be missional is the love which God expresses for all humanity!