On a Mission from God
I have not actually seen the movie, "The Blues Brothers." But I know they had a mission: to put the band back together. And they called it a "Mission from God." Sometimes, like the Blues Brothers, we take something we want to make happen and call it a "Mission from God." We can make our career path that mission. We can make weight loss that mission. We can make proving that teacher in fourth grade who told me I'd never amount to anything that mission.
None of these things actually rise to the level of a "Mission from God." You see, God has a mission, and He has called every follower of His Son, Jesus, to join Him in it.
The mission of God is not to help us be good people, even though He is pleased when we live good lives out of love for Jesus. The mission of God is not to make us comfortable, even though He has promised to comfort us in all our afflictions. His mission is not to bless us with wealth and possessions, even though it pleases Him to give good gifts to all who call on Him.
The Mission of God - in Latin it is Missio Dei - is to redeem His fallen creation, beginning with us humans who are created in His image. His Mission is to put back in order what was disrupted when sin came into the world. His Mission is to take our frail, broken, messed up lives and make us like His Son, Jesus.
And every follower of Jesus has been drafted for this mission. Two of the last things Jesus said to His followers after He was raised from the dead identify our part in the great Missio Dei:
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NIV)
"Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV)
We are commissioned by God to be Holy Spirit-filled witnesses, showing Jesus to the world and telling people how He has changed our lives through His amazing grace. And we are to make disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to obey Jesus.
Jesus was clear and emphatic about this. There was no "when you get your life together" clause at the end. There was no "if you're having a good day and feel like it" condition allowed. And there was no "as Pastors and Missionaries" limitation placed on it.
Be witnesses. Make disciples.
The proper response to this mandate for the mission from God is simple: "Jesus, what do you want me to do to help fulfill this mission?"
How shall I live to make my life a witness to the redeeming grace of Jesus? Whom shall I serve to be the hands and feet of Jesus to them? What shall I give to support the ministries of my church and the missionaries we partner with? How can I live for this great mission, and not just for myself?
When we begin to ask God these dangerous questions, He begins to show us our purpose in life and our place in His Missio Dei. When we allow God's Holy Spirit to fill us with the love of Jesus and direct our behavior as He chooses, we discover something that is powerfully joyful: God actually delights to use flawed, not-yet-mature, imperfect-but-in-love-with-Jesus people to bring others into His redemption.
People like Peter, who denied he even knew Jesus while Jesus was on trial. People like Paul, who arrested followers of Jesus, believing it was his religious duty to do so. People like you and me.
Today at Dayton UMC we conclude our 2019 Global Impact Celebration missions conference. We have had an amazing week with our mission partners. We have heard powerful messages and testimonies. We have grown in our understanding of our place in the Missio Dei through our mission partnerships. And this morning we will respond. This morning we will commit our lives and our finances to fulfill our part in our Mission from God.
Then, day by day, we will pray for and support our mission partners and we will live as missionaries right here - in our homes and families and neighborhoods and work places and schools. Because, you see, we are on a Mission from God, and it's way bigger than getting the band back together!