Scripture Passage for Daily Reflection
(NIV, via biblegateway.com)
Thoughts for the Week
The good news, as Jesus declared, is that God’s Kingdom is at hand. Yes, it is still in the process of becoming fully established on earth as it is in heaven, but its here, its real, its tangible. No more anxiously awaiting the Messiah, no more wondering if God will set things right…it is happening now, as you read these words. What Jesus calls us to do is simple (which is not the same as easy): We must open our eyes, adjust our gaze and turn our attention to what God is doing…and then accept the invitation to join in. For too long we’ve understood “repent and believe” to be a primarily cognitive endeavor. We think of repenting as merely not sinning anymore…how’s that working out for us, by the way?
To repent is to change course. Again, this can be co-opted by a narrow moralism which encourages us to view ourselves (the repentant) as better than others or (perhaps more damagingly) as vile sinners…worms if you will.
In truth, the beauty of repentance, of fixing our eyes on something more trustworthy, is that it enables us to gain a more clear picture of reality. We aren’t better than others – we are all created in the image of God, we just haven’t all seen it yet. But neither are we worms – we are all created in the image of God, we just haven’t all seen it yet. You are a beloved child of God, invited to take your place as a steward of God’s creation; an ambassador of God’s kingdom tasked to serve as an agent of light, hope and life.
Jesus said, “everyone who believes in me will be saved,” but that doesn’t mean just believing God exists (remember, even the demons believe that…and they shudder at the thought). Believing in Jesus means we believe in his mission – and his mission actively involves those who believe in him. Our baptism is not just a ritual that absolves sin, it is a commissioning.
Imagine a man kneeling before a king, having a sword tapped on each shoulder. When this man rises he is a new person – Sir SoAndSo. This new person has a new identity, a new calling, a new responsibility. Can you now imagine this newly knighted SoAndSo sitting down once a week, listening to the stories of the King and tales of gallant knights…and then going back home to muddle through life as a peasant (perhaps taking an occasional bath and looking down at the “dirty” peasants) until the next week’s story telling?
We aren’t just saved from our sins, we’re saved from a pointless, meaningless life. The good news is that the kingdom of God is at hand…and you are invited in with a role to play. This has always been the way God has chosen to operate with humanity. God walked in the garden with Adam and Eve and gave them work to do…even after “the fall.” God called Abraham, blessed him for the purpose of blessing the whole world, and gave him work to do. God called to Moses from the burning bush and gave him work to do. Jesus called disciples to himself, showed them the Father, and gave them work to do.
None of this has ever been mindless drudgery. This isn’t busy work. While God could have chosen to go about the mission of restoring and reconciling creation alone, for some reason, we’ve always been invited to serve as junior partners and co-creators with the Creator.
If you believe in Jesus, you are called to live as a disciple; as one who learns the ways of the master in order to do the things the master does and live the way the master lives. If you are a disciple of Jesus you have been commissioned to join the mission of God in this place. The question before each of us is, “how will we respond to our commission?”
Sunday – The Missionary God
Missionary God, we praise you because you have not stayed far off. Father, we thank you for creating the universe and we thank you for walking in the garden. Let all God’s children rejoice because our Lord has come near! God you knelt in the dirt to form the first people, you called Moses from the burning bush, you spoke with Abraham not only in visions but also as a visitor who received his hospitality! You called to young Samuel as he slept, wrestled with Jacob as he tried to do the same and it is you with whom we wrestle to this day. We worship you because not only did Jesus empty himself and become one of us, but in so doing, he stepped into the cycle of violence and defeated death. You are the Living God! We ask you to strengthen us as we seek to follow you into the neighborhoods of Burleson. We pray that your hand will guide Intentional People as we seek to equip others others to follow you into their own neighborhoods. Missionary God, we praise you because you have not stayed far off…you are the One Who Comes Near and we want to be people who reflect your image in this place.
When you peel back all the layers of motivation, the core conviction for both planting churches and starting Intentional People is the Missionary God we serve. From the very first chapter of the Bible we witness the activities of a God who has never been content to remain aloof from the lives and struggles of humanity. The Genesis story teaches us that God has not only come near (repeatedly) but has also (repeatedly) invited us to meaningful work in God’s creation and kingdom. Therefore, all our efforts grow out of our theology…rather than the other way around. In addition to our communal prayer today, will you also pray that God will lead us into contact with people whom the Spirit has been preparing to hear this amazing story of the Missionary God?