Global Mission of the Church or God?
I just attended a weekend seminar as part of a class I am taking at George Fox Evangelical Seminary. The instructor, Leonard Sweet, started the class by suggesting we rethink the title of the class. Throughout the weekend he consistently challenged our thinking and encouraged us to re-frame many ideas we may have already formed about the mission of God. Missio Dei – the sending of God or mission of God – is a phrase, according to wikipedia, that was coined in 1934 and made popular in the late 20th century and ” is a key concept in missiology being used by theologians such as David Bosch, Andrew Jones, Michael Frost and William Storrar.” I have also found it to be a popular name for churches, missional gatherings, and is making it’s way into book and seminar titles.
What’s the big deal, you may be asking, why the distinction? Somehow this distinction is tied to the source of mission – does mission originate in the church or in God? This seems a strange question to me since I have been participating in the mission of God for a long time and didn’t know there were differing views on this topic. Nevertheless, there are different ways of thinking and looking at mission that have significantly affected the church and the mission of God. So, this is a relevant distinction. In my understanding and experience with God, the mission of God has to originate with Him and not the church. The church is a part of missio Dei, but not the source of mission.
This is my first semester in seminary. Over the years I have learned that there are many people who think differently than I do concerning the things of God, but I am also learning that there are more people who think about God in ways similar to how I have been thinking than I realized. For years I have felt like an outcast, oddball, even reject at times because of some of my thinking about God that has differed from the people I am involved with in ministry. For the first time in years I am finding much of my thinking is not as unacceptable as I have been led to believe.
Oh, that I would have the courage to accept what God reveals to me even if it is not a popular way of thinking, but may I do so with humility and grace. I have so much to learn! May I ever be the learner and never become so learned that I think I know it all! As the words of Leonard Sweet so aptly profess:
There are still some know-it-alls out there. Some people are like Moses. They think they can see the face of God . . . and live.
The best we can do is hear God’s voice, and in rare moments of mystical and metaphorical ecstasy, gently touch his face.
Lord, I seek Your face, help me hear Your voice above all else.
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