One of many favorite things about the church I serve at is that we have certain Sundays we call “Wild Card Sundays”. These are the Sundays in which we are encouraged to visit other churches and see how God’s body worships Him elsewhere. On one of these recent “Wild Card” Sundays, I randomly decided to visit a local young Asian American Church that is close to my house. In many ways, this place was similar to our church, but in many ways completely different as well; I guess that’s how faith communities are and how God makes each community unique so as to better minister to the diverse world out here. What was crazy was that my mentor and former Pastor/boss whom I shall call “Captain” was guest-speaking at the church and I was in for a blessed treat as I got to listen to him preach God’s Word.
Anyways, since this message was a few months ago, I believe that the essential main point was the importance of continuing to stay connected to God’s mission. In life often, it is easy to be excited for God and continue to be fresh… but as time progresses we become comfortable and as a result, it’s easy to simply get into a place of no life or power as we become stagnant or even rigid because we haven’t moved or continued to lubricate our joints. I liken this frozen-ness/woodenness to old age (those that I see that tend to be less flexible)… but is often an affliction that affects many believers of all ages and experiences as we start to become comfortable with where we are at in our lives.
Captain pointed out that because we are on God’s mission to this world… that we are as a body or church existing for the purpose of His work. As a result… when we miss out on this mission, we miss out on God’s work. He reminded me of this call by quoting John 20:21 … when Jesus said to His disciples: “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” So what is this mission of God? The mission of God is the kingdom of God touching & renewing everything and everyone in our world through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is in joining with this wholesome message of grace that we are a part of His Missio Dei … and as a result it changes us and fills us.
Using John 4, and referencing Jesus’ interaction with the Woman of Samaria, he continued to talk about how this lady had learned to drink of the living water. This living water nourishes and satisfies in such a complete and perfect way… and truly, if one was to simply live like that, it’d be fine, but at the same time, this lady left everything and proceeded to go forth and share in Jesus’ mission… that is the witness to her whole village despite her low social status.
The way of Jesus then can be seen in John 4:27-34. When the disciples returned back with food for Jesus, they saw him talking to the woman and they wanted to ask him questions; no one did of course. So after she left, they offered Him something to eat, and Jesus goes into Yoda-mode and basically replied “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” Can you imagine how that must’ve felt if you were his disciple and Jesus said that to you? What did you possibly eat?! You see, Jesus was operating on a whole different level of thinking from His disciples… rather than seeing the tangible realities of hunger and feeding, Jesus was saying was that what fills His soul truly was to be doing God’s will and His work. Basically, He was being satisfied by being in harmony with God’s mission. Have you ever felt or experienced that? What was that moment when you were able to be in so harmony with God’s mission in your life?
I think we all encounter such moments throughout our lives. Perhaps it is a time when we respond to the tugging by the Holy Spirit to speak to someone. Perhaps it was the speaking to someone that God had put a burden on our hearts. It could even be the simple small gestures of love towards another that may mean so little to others, but meant the world to the person you loved. Truly, it is totally satisfying and fills you in a completely satisfying way. More often than not, we eat of this wonderful fulfilling feast in God when we coincide… when we harmonize with God’s melody… which usually is directed towards the helpless… the poor, the oppressed, the orphans… the widows… and those lacking others to be there for them. This is the joy of mission! It is the ability to feast and partake in that infinitely satisfying goodness of God.
Captain then pointed out that we often don’t hear from God… because we aren’t listening to God and doing what He wants. Rather we desire to hear and determine that tone/frequency or melody of God in our lives… but more so than not… God’s audible frequency is completely different and so much harder than what we dare or want to commit to. Rather, we would like to be comfortable or self-reliant. It is in these times that we become more “wooden” or less flexible; we become less stretchable. It’s only when you get out of the ruts of our lives… the comfortably cozy places that we can be stretched and to have opportunities to have a child-like faith. This child-like faith is those places where we can’t rely on our own experiences and abilities but where we really have no confidence and strength in our own abilities. God wants to stretch us, but more often than not… it requires us to count the cost and to consider and turn away from the comfort and safety of what we understand and know so well.
So what does this look like to be more on mission and in tune with God? I think the one little quote I wrote down that made so much sense is this: “A life of obedience and faith is a life of saying ‘yes!’ to Jesus.” It is learning to take not 1 HUGE step, but learning to simply take small steps of obedience and faith. It is after taking these steps that perhaps prepares us to take big steps… but more often than not… when we look back… looks like some huge fantastic steps. It is in learning to say “yes” to God that I think we grow and continue to be refreshed and to drink from that living water that rejuvenates and keeps us flexible. It is also in the midst of these times of saying yes, that we see that the road that lies ahead.
One final thought I jotted down as I was listening to my mentor’s sermon was this… what are the dreams we live for? Do we live for our dreams… imperfect and flawed… or do we allow God’s dreams which are infinitely better/perfect/complete… to be our dreams? I think God wants us to dream His dream… to dream His story… He wants our hopes and all that we are… to be after that perfect dream… and it is in doing so that we become a part of His mission. How will you say “yes” to Him today?