Friday, April 11, 2008


I find myself thinking a good deal about mission. By mission, I mean the Gospel. There are numerous dimensions to the Gospel. Each member of the Church has a embodies a certain slice of the Gospel mission.

At the most basic level, Christ’s command is to go into the world baptizing in the name of the Trinity. We might conceptualize this as telling the story, and calling people to take their place in the unfolding story of God’s love for the world. This basic dimension is about taking it on the road into the ordinary lives of individuals.

It means proclaiming that there is more to life that the pursuits that occupy most of our time and energy. It means rethinking our existence. It means rethinking the purpose of life. If we we are on a mission, then nothing is ordinary. Every act, no matter how mundane, can be an ongoing act of sanctification.

Paul talks about this in the differentiation of the parts of the body. Each member has a different purpose, but comprises the whole. Each whole body, each individual is called to the work that makes up the whole Gospel mission. Awareness of the larger purpose is what keeps us together, working in concert.

In my experience, it is all too easy for us to lose sight of the whole. We can become consumed by our individual labors, and forget the the whole. Worship wants more resources, and thinks outreach gets too much. Mission projects receive less attention than internal fellowship. The roof leaks, but we build habitat houses. We engage those we know, and we look past visitors.

We are called to do it all, and not to the detriment of any single piece. Why aren’t we better at it? I am afraid it it because our vision is too small. We settle on the Church occupying a small piece of our lives. We forget that, at our core, we are children of God. When you strip away all the other labels that inform our identity, we are left bare as creatures of God. We are called to be in relationship with our fellow creatures.

To become myopic about any one component of the Gospel is to settle for too little. Can’t we proclaim Jesus as the Son of God, and work for a just society? Do we not have the resources to take care of ourselves, the Church and those in need? Do we not have the time to be present to our intimates and those that are our neighbors?

Most of the issues that divide denominations and individual churches have to do with competing visions. Some say one thing is most important, and others argue for other things. The Church and the Gospel are not enhanced by competing visions, because the Gospel is all of it.

The lesson from Acts, for this Sunday, gives us that richer vision of Church and the Gospel. It shows us that the first Christians were unified by the presence of God, generosity and love. These marks of the Church spilled over into the communities around the Church, and the Church flourished.

Many claim the Church needs to get back to basics. I agree. The core is awe in the presence of God, generosity and love. It is not one over another, it is all of it. How can we become a community that values the whole?

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