Dear Minster and friends,
The word ‘mission’ is used in all sorts of ways, and not all of them are helpful. We can be on a mission to get a birthday present for someone, on a government mission, or even use the phrase to say something is difficult …’to be honest, it’s a bit of a mission.’
The English word comes from the Latin ‘missio’ meaning ‘I send’. For many theologians, the word first comes from who God is…The Father sends the Son, who sends the Spirit, and then sends the church to the world. God is a sending God.
But then, also, we are sent people… part of His plan and purpose. The truth is, that sometimes stability is captivity, and sometimes risk is freedom. Think of Exodus…there was stability in Egyptian captivity, but no freedom; but when they were caught up afresh in the mission of God, they became a free people, led by the Spirit, instructed by the Word and a pillar of fire!
I was struck by the introduction to Beth Moore’s newest book, because she rightly picks up that mission is our overflow of being in His mission, not just an earthly initiative and activity of individual Christians:
“Here’s what I know after decades of life and ministry among myriads of people: we all want to matter. The yearning to matter is no respecter of persons. Man or woman; adult or child; religious or irreligious; rich or poor; black, brown, or white—such a longing is sewn in permanent thread within the fabric of every human soul. The great relief is finding out that the hope is not deferred. You do matter—already—without making one single change. But everything changes when you let your Maker show you why you matter and how He can take all that concerns you and, sooner or later, here or there, subtly or astonishingly, make it matter.” (Chasing Vines: finding your way to an immensely fruitful life).
Before launching into this or that ‘mission for God’ it is important to consider that we do already matter, we are already in the centre focus of the mission of God. Our culture commodifies nearly everything, turns every good thing into monetary value, and is not good at recognising those things of worth and value which are less easily turned into a spreadsheet. But then, once we are reminded of our worth, from a Christian perspective, we become aware of the worth of others, equally precious and made in the image of God. Without the love of our maker and sustainer, all attempts at self worth lead to comparison, shame, or the crushing of the dreams of others in order to realise our own.
Dana Robert, an excellent mission historian, makes a strong argument that the history of evangelistic and cross cultural Christian mission is largely one in which women played a fundamental role in furthering the mission of God, whilst retaining those indispensable qualities which transactional and commercial cultures like ours often skip over and ignore:
“The History of Christian mission must focus on women, for the majority of Christians in the world are women. If judged by numbers of members, Christianity is predominantly a woman’s movement. Missionary women have typically placed the cross-cultural transmission of the gospel within a framework of service, healing, teaching and hospitality. Whether as celibate sisters, mothers, teachers, social workers, evangelists or medical doctors, the witness of women builds relationships. “ (Christian Mission, p.141)
With much love,