Thursday, June 27, 2013

Missional Words and Missional Actions

  • Word and action.
  • Promises and promises kept.
  • Proclamation and fulfillment.
If you want to understand who God is you must view how God both states and acts. He makes promises and he comes through on what he has promised.

Many toxic images of God result from the fact that we don’t hold these two in collaborative tension. If we lean toward a God who speaks but his actions are not expected, then we create an image of a god who has a lot to say to us but for the most part it’s up to us to get it right. His talk, our action. Sadly, I see this happening in the "missional" movement today. We think that since God told us to go and "make disciples" then we must go. We act as if God has said all he is going to say and we don't trust that God is actually going ahead of us and with us. But Jesus's final words to the Great Commission are "Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age." (CEB)

If we have an image of God that leans toward action, then we are left with little understanding of what God says about what God is doing. We find it hard to know what is and what is not God acting. We are left with an arbitrary god who does whatever we want him to be doing. Our words, god’s actions. This too is impacting the way we try to do mission. I see this happening in all kinds of "missional" talk when great things (usually growth and success) occur. It seems like we have "missionalized" church-growth talk. Outreach that is successful, must be interpreted as God's way of being missional. But when it comes to mission, I've found that God is most present in the struggle.

I think that many of us waffle between words and action Like a tetter-totter, we gravitate to the Word side when we need concrete direction. And then we fall to the action side and see God in everything that happens in life and assume that we know what God is doing, without actually asking the Spirit to show us the reality of what's going on.

Following Jesus in God's mission in this world requires:
  1. Hearing God's words 
  2. Waiting on his actions
God’s promises are proven in God’s actions. God’s actions are clarified by God’s promises.
God speaks about what the Spirit is doing in the world (neighborhoods, workplaces, in families, etc.) and he acts in ways that reveal how we can get involved. We need missional training so that we can pay attention to what God is speaking and so we can see how God is acting.

This is the mindset behind my book Difference Makers. We make a difference as we learn to hear what God is saying about his mission and as we observe what God is doing. Then we can properly enter into God's words and actions, thereby giving us the ability to make God's kind of difference in the world. 

1 comment:

Andrew Mason said...

Profound. I think in our finite minds we have to compartmentalize God's work in our life into categories like "character" and "ministry."

I tend to sensitize my heart for God to shape my inner man and character and then pull out my internal ministry plans and strategies and work from my own head as a leader.

Some times I think God doesn't categorize His work in our lives. As He shapes my heart He knows He is shaping the mission He has for me and as I follow His mission for my life He knows that my heart will be shaped.

This challenges me to stay sensitive to Him in all areas of my life. When I can't see what the Father is doing (Jn 5:19) I am in danger of being a blind leader leading the blind into a ditch.

Thanks for this article and thanks for modeling these concepts in your own life and family. This book looks really good, can't wait to read it and share it with others.