Monday, January 23, 2012

Is "Missional" talk Missing God?

We settle for works of mission instead of God's mission. We replace doing things that look like mission for participating in the deep things that God is doing in our world. We are a people of action. We want to become "externally-focused." We want to see "movement" growth happen. We want "exponential." Don't get me wrong. I think our intentions are good. We want to see people get saved, the church grow and the world changed. We want to see love shared. We believe that God's mission expands as we do "small things with great love." And I agree with all of this. But we overlook at deeper truth. Too often the church is trying to share love that it has not it's encountered and experienced. I'd like to draw from the words of Kierkegaard in his great book Works of Love:

"Love's hidden life is in the innermost being, unfathomable, and then in turn is in an unfathomable connectedness with all existence. Just as the quiet lake originates deep down in hidden springs no eye has seen, so also does a person's love originate even more deeply in God's love. If there were no gushing spring at the bottom, if God were not love, then there would be neither the little lack nor a human being's love. Just as a quiet lake originates darkly in the deep spring, so a human being's love originates mysteriously in God's love. Just as a quiet lake invites you to contemplate it but by the reflected image of darkness prevents you from seeing through it, so also the mysterious origin of love in God's love prevents you from seeing its ground. When you think that you see it, you are deceived by a reflected image, as if that which only hides the deeper ground were the ground. Just as the lid of a clever secret compartment, for the very purpose of completely hiding the compartment, looks as if it were the bottom, so also that which only covers what is even deeper deceptively appears to be the depths of the ground" (9-10).

The mission that on which God calls the church goes deeper than having an outward focus. It calls us beyond simply saying that we need to have a balance between sharing the Gospel and doing social justice. 

Are we deceived by all our talk about the ways that the church can be missional? By all of our clever strategies for creating missional movements? By all the hype about having exponential multiplication? Are we missing God and an encounter with his love in the process?

I hope not. But a quick survey of the literature reveals our focus. God take us deeper! Are we open to a prophetic challenge to embrace the hidden life of God's mission?

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