What do you think of when you hear the word ‘mission’? What about God’s mission? Most often I think of evangelism. I think of sharing ways to share the message of Jesus with others and helping them meet him. I also imagine how I can help others see what God is like and bring his presence. Most of all, I relate the words ‘mission’ and ‘missional’ to those who don’t yet know Jesus.
What if it doesn’t have to be this way? What if mission is more than evangelism? I’m not undervaluing evangelism but what if was part of a bigger picture? – Jesus establishing his everlasting kingdom.
A Missional Story from a Train ride.
The commuter trains leave the stations every morning where I live and for a time I was on one. Most people try to catch up on sleep on these trains. I used my computer trying to ignore the world around me. Imagine my horror when I saw 2 luggage laden women approaching with over an hour left of the train ride. One sat next to me and the other across the aisle. Then they did something unforgivable on these trains – they talked.
I sensed God telling me to talk to the lady next to me during their conversation. But I knew better. God didn’t know the etiquette of trains but I did. You just don’t talk on these trains. But the feeling wouldn’t leave. I offered some general travel advice as they began to talk about exchanging money at the airport.
I learned a lot during our conversation. The woman next to me had reconnected with her childhood faith in Jesus and had recently joined a church in her local area. She was traveling to New Zealand for the 1st anniversary of her husband’s death with an aunt. They had always wanted to go there but were never able to. And she was worried. She worried her adult children would forget their father over time.
I asked the woman if she knew the story of Joseph. She did. What she didn’t realise was the Bible considers it the story of Jacob (Gen 37:1-2). Yet Jacob is hardly in the story. He isn’t there when Joseph is sold into slavery. Same too in Potiphar’s house. He wasn’t in prison or Egypt. Joseph is the central character of Jacob’s story.
The realisation dawned on her – her husband’s story would continue to be told in the lives of their children. The encounter impacted her. It gave her hope for her holiday. It was a chance meeting but one in which she brought her worries before God and left feeling renewed.
Surely this is part of God’s mission? Surely mission includes calling followers of Jesus into the embrace of the missional God? Mission must include inviting fellow believers to take their hurts, disappointments and broken to glimpse the fullness of his kingdom, mustn’t it?