Yesterday in church I led the conversation on the Great Commission. We have been making our way through the book of Luke for the last couple of years and have finally arrived at the end, which of course just means we are diving straight into Acts next. For many of us who grew up in the evangelical church, the Great Commission involves nothing more than convincing other people to believe in Jesus. Preaching forgiveness and making disciples simply meant getting people to intellectually assent to a certain set of ideas. We've left out the whole part about training people in everything Jesus taught.
So yesterday we looked at the mission Jesus sent his followers on (with the help of the Spirit) in light of how Jesus himself described his own mission in Luke 4 (to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners,recovery of sight for the blind, and to release the oppressed). The Spirit of the Lord was on Jesus to fulfill his mission and Jesus promised the Spirit so that the disciples could fulfill theirs as well (which included training others in the way Jesus trained them to follow). But sometimes doing that mission - spreading the message of forgiveness and freedom through our words and deeds - is hard. We obviously have failed at the whole setting the oppressed free and bringing good news to the poor (since there is still oppression and poverty), so there is a lot more work that needs to be done to fulfill the Great Commission. That's where the Spirit comes in to kick out butts.
I love the example Sarah Dylan Breuer
gives as she compares what the Spirit does to a washing machine -
Washing machines don't work if the load is stagnant; without motion, there's no transformation. So the washing machines that I grew up with had something at their center that bounced around to push what's at the center out to the margins and bring what's at the margins in to the center such that the whole load could be transformed.
We call that thing at the center of the washing machine an 'agitator,' and I can think of no better word for what the Spirit does for us. The call of God's Spirit pushes those of us at the center of our world's all-too-concentrated power and wealth out to the margins to welcome the marginalized to the center. If we stay where we are and let the rest of the world stay as it is, we're not fully experiencing the presence and work of the Spirit, and we won't benefit as fully from the transformation that the Spirit is bringing.
We need that agitation, that kick in the butt, to actually be out there engaging in the mission Christ called us to. Our discussion yesterday concluded with a time of brainstorming of everyday practical things we each could do to engage in that mission followed by us having to list the excuses we give for why we don't actually engage. Here's a sampling of some of the stuff we came up with.Ways we can engage in Mission
Our Excuses for Not Doing Anything
- - Be a volunteer
- - Get to know our neighbors
- - Live more frugally and simply
- - Take the time to be educated on justice issues
- - Learn Spanish
- - Buy Fairly Traded items
- - Do chores for your elderly neighbor
- - Go to student's soccer games
- - Write actual letters to lawmakers
- - Visit the "unseen" in our culture
- - I'm too shy
- - I won't make a big difference anyway
- - It's too expensive
- - I don't know where to begin
- - There is always something better I could be doing to help others, so I end up doing nothing at all
What would you add to either of these lists?
Labels: Church, mission, Social Justice