Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Doing Mission Like Jesus - First Impressions

Our Universal Pre-existing Condition
The principles that guide our mission methods differ from the principles of discipleship. Mission is relating to people on the basis of our common humanity. All humanity is in a predicament. Some aspects of this predicament are beyond our control and some aspects of our predicament are self inflicted. Humans suffer from sickness and our natural inability which are thrust upon us by our common humanity. While at the same time, other aspects of our predicament are caused by our sinful and foolish lifestyle choices. In mission, we are not concerned with such matters. We do not question the causes of an individual’s tragic circumstance. Love covers a multitude of sins. We are all the same under the gospel. We are all victims of our own humanity, and we are all responsible to some remote degree for our suffering, but, in mission, we are not concerned with the causes of people’s predicaments. Jesus’ love to humanity is unconditional. The only question that Jesus asks during the mission process, the process of introducing Himself to human beings, is “where does it hurt?”. We all suffer from a pre-existing condition called humanity, and we all need the healer to come set us free. The gospel has no interest in condemning people because we are all already condemned and suffering from the fruit of the folly of our forefathers. Therefore, since we are all the same and there is no distinction, there is no use asking any questions to triage who is qualified for God’s love and mercy. Either we are all qualified for grace or we are all disqualified for grace. The cross of Jesus proclaims clearly, “we are all qualified for grace through the work of Jesus” to the glory of God.

In Mission We are Giving People a First Impression of God
All of us need to build our life with God on a foundation of His grace and love for us. Therefore, in mission we are giving people a first impression of God that is unconditionally loving and gracious. We do not ask the prodigal son or daughter how they got so stinky and dirty. We do not expose but, instead, we cover their shame. We do not interrogate the woman or man caught in the very act of adultery. We simply say “I do not condemn you”. We advocate for sinners and the weak. We bring healing. We are the spiritual Red Cross. The Red Cross brings nursing to both sides of a war. Injured Nazis get medical care from the Red Cross to the exact same level of care and urgency as the American liberator. This is an incredible metaphor for mission. When a dying soldier sees a Red Cross nurse or doctor, he is filled with a glimmer of hope in the midst of his suffering. This is the impression the church is to give to a dying world.

We have a lot of work to do.

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