Mission doesn’t start with you. I’m sorry to bust anyone’s ego, but it isn’t your idea. You don’t own the missional patent. You don’t get the credit. God does.
God Owns The Missional Patent
God’s missional intention is evident in Genesis 3. Most followers of Jesus know this story. Adam and Eve are in God’s garden. There’s more than enough for them; it’s abundant. But they do the one thing God has told them not to – eat from a certain tree. They break his single rule and end their relationship.
I’ve grown up with this story. I know the next part. God promises someone would come to save them. He would crush the head of the serpent. He would rescue and restore. God wouldn’t destroy humanity. He would save them but it would be his way. Don’t we gaze ahead at Jesus after reading this as Christians?
This pretty well sums up God’s missional purpose. He wants to redeem his world. His missional plan is to restore all of creation, humanity included, back into right relationship through Jesus. This means, all people living and enjoying their relationships with each other, the world around, and God, and living by his ways. This is how the Bible speaks of shalom.
There’s something missing from this picture. Adam and Eve didn’t go to God in Genesis 3. Neither did God’s voice suddenly boom from heaven. No, God went. He initiates.
God is the first missionary. He sent himself to step into humanity’s problem to offer his presence and grace. Yes, he spoke the judgment, but Adam already knew this. He was hiding, naked and ashamed. God is pro-active. Even in bringing a word of judgment, he comes to deliver a promise of hope.
Jesus is sent to the world. Just as God seeks out Adam in the garden, so he sends Jesus to the world. Jesus – fully God and fully human. He would crush the serpent’s head by taking our sin and rebellion to the Cross.
The Holy Spirit is sent to Jesus’ followers. God is dwelling with us. The Holy Spirit empowers us, equips us, and enables us to become like Jesus and call others to do likewise.
Jesus’ followers are sent to share the kingdom of God in their world. We are God’s agents of grace in our communities. We bring his beauty, peace and justice, his mercy, reconciliation and healing into every situation from doing the groceries to a meal at the local pub. And in the process of this kingdom bringing, we call others to embrace Christ and join with him.
The missional patent is sentness. God. Jesus. The Holy Spirit. Jesus’ followers. There is no mission without sentness.
Jesus sends us out into all the world to make disciples (Matt. 28:16-20) based on his own sentness (’as the Father has sent me, I also send you’ – John 20:21). Does this mean we should have missional lives just out of obedience to Jesus? Surely not.
First, God holds the missional patent. As we begin to live missionally, as we start to see and go to the brokenness of our neighbourhoods, as we bring the message of hope found in the gospel, we are doing what God did. We are mirroring him.
Second, the language of sentness is relational. First, there’s a triune relationship in God’s sending. First, God sends himself, then Jesus is sent, then the Holy Spirit is sent. But we are invited to join in with this. We are sent because of our relationship with Jesus, having been empowered by the Holy Spirit to carry the promise and kingdom of God.
It is only as we begin to realise that our sentness is grounded upon relationship that our lives will be truly missional.