Okay, so I geeked out a bit too much live tweeting the past two days at the conference A Missional Reading of Scripture at Calvin Seminary and Calvin College. It was the first conference I’d been too in years. And it was well worth it.
To tell the truth, the word missional gets tossed around a lot. In the past, I think I have rightly said that there is a difference between mission minded and missional. Mission minded is the fact that we must send others out to be missionaries into the world. Missional is saying that not only are you a missionary in your own personal world, you are sent in the name of God to do this every day. David Bosch in his book Transforming Missions says (and I’m paraphrasing here) as the Father sent the Son, so we are sent by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are sent ones. We who belong to Jesus are sent ones.
More than that, we are part of a bigger story. And that’s where the missional reading of scripture comes in. It is seeing scripture from a whole new perspective. It is seeing the fact that the Bible is a mission document. A document inspired by the Holy Spirit, written during a during time and place. And we are part of this story. We, now and today, are part of this bigger-than-our-selves story. We are rooted in this history and it is part of us. Reading it missionally places us in part of the story. It is our story. God’s story of sending his people is our story as well. And we see how it is lived out today.
As I’ve said in the past, church is a verb. It is something we do. We, as the church, need to be missional communities. Communities of people who live out this sentness of God through Christ empowered by the Holy Spirit. And this is what the New Testament is about. With a missional reading of scripture, we see that these are missionary documents. Documents written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to tell of Jesus who came, who broke into history. God himself broke into history to have heaven meet earth and earth meet heaven in him.
And because Jesus is ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father, we have a bit of earth in heaven. And because God sent his Holy Spirit, we have the breathe of Heaven on earth. And as we read the New Testament, we read of these communities who have come together to worship God through Jesus. They have come together to be a new way of being. Following Jesus means doing humanity differently. It means being human differently. It is a whole new set of ethics of being different.
And in Paul’s letters, this is to whom he is writing, to these communities living differently than the rest of the world around them. Paul is writing as a missionary to these communities telling them how to live out differently, how to live a life worthy of their calling in Christ. How to live a life different representing the kingdom of God.
The church itself is to be a reflection of the kingdom on earth. We, who follow Jesus as our savior, are filled with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, God’s breath, and are temples unto the Holy Spirit, and to live this out in communities together as the church and be the representatives of Jesus, of God, of his kingdom here on earth.
Totally theology geek here. I can go on and on about this but people much smarter than I spoke at this conference. People spoke who’ve studied this and have known this much more longer and deeper than I will ever go. They’ve forgotten more about this stuff than I’ll ever learn.
So what then? What’s the biggest thing about this all? We are to live as the church. We are to be these missional communities. We as the church must live together bringing, living the Gospel message of the indwelling of Jesus in our lives and the coming kingdom of God. We are to live this out in word and deed out of gratitude and the urgency of the Gospel needing to be spoken and lived.
God came and called to us. God came and sent his people to live differently. He came and dwelt among them in the wilderness and in their midst when living in the Promised Land. And Jesus came and dwelt amongst us. And is with us now, sending us as he was sent by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Dude. I can go on but I won’t. I might write more later as I process this all that I learned. But there is now an urgency in my mid to bring God’s word to His people in a much more urgent way to speak of the coming kingdom of God.