Friday, May 26, 2006

I have sent them into the world

I was reflecting on Jesus' prayer in John 17 this week. I think this is vital to our understanding what we are called to & empowered to do - what it means to be missional.

Context:
Jesus has shared the last supper with his disciples;
shared with them his farewell address - reminding them that they are rooted & grounded in him, he commands them to "love one another".
Then he prays for them as he was about to take those next steps toward the cross, and the resurrection and ascension into heaven.

I think it is important to note that Jesus did not call his followers to any other agenda but to go out into the world (after he explained what that meant) just as he came into their world, as one sent from the Father.

In his prayer, Jesus prayed to the Father, "I have sent them." The sending had already been done. It was part of the spiritual formation that took place in their lives as they walked the dusty roads of the land with Jesus on their way to somewhere Jesus knew God wanted him to be, as they ate and drank together, as they traveled across the Sea of Galilee, during times of healing and compassion provided by Jesus.

In this prayer, Jesus was confident that he had already sent them. He also knew that they would need to be reminded that they were sent and that this meant they were to be going. Their temptation, like ours, Jesus knew, would have been to be ignore the "being sent" part of spiritual formation.

I wonder if we [I am speaking of the Canadian / North American context] get it backwards. We would rather call for the world to come out of the world and into our building. Once they arrive in our buildings, then we can give them a great performance and display of Jesus, at least our image of who Jesus is for our group. [I won't even attempt to list some of the crazy / dumb things churches do to get people to come to us - nor will I ask what kind of Jesus we are displaying.]

Jesus used the word "sent" and so we must go. But how do we keep the tension between being a place of worship and a missional community; between gathering and scatttering?

Thoughts?

5 comments:

Walking Church said...

John 17 is one of my favorite passages especially with all the 'unity' talk (creation within the Creator and Creator within the creation). I love the passage in .20 directed to us, the believers that have resulted from this early Jesus movement.

I am of the belief that the hurting will NOT come to a tradional church for help. You have a credibility problem. (I speak this harsh criticism in love and not to damn - but to realize a learning lesson)

The hands and feet have to be missional and 'go' to the market place. Our laity needs to be commisioned and prayed over and sent just as foreign missionaries are affirmed.

I think the purpose for gathering should be strickly focused upon celebration. Rejoicing and Worship in it's truest sense. Rejoicing in what has been done and what is being done - and our great future (hope).

What comes to mind is the parable of the woman who rejoices over an insignificant coin that she has found.

We should rejoice when the one sheep is found!

We need to learn to 'Kingdom Party'

pkotn said...

Walking church you have said some very strong statements, probably personal experience:
I am of the belief that the hurting will NOT come to a tradional church for help. I am thankfull I am one sheep that was hurting and sought help from a "traditional" church.

Paul wrote in
2 Corinthians 13:10-12 (The Message) "I'm writing this to you now so that when I come I won't have to say another word on the subject. The authority the Master gave me is for putting people together, not taking them apart. I want to get on with it, and not have to spend time on reprimands. And that's about it, friends. Be cheerful. Keep things in good repair. Keep your spirits up. Think in harmony. Be agreeable. Do all that, and the God of love and peace will be with you for sure." It isn't Think boring. Be complacent.

I would ask how do we keep the BALANCE between being a place of worship and a missional community? Pesonally I agree with Paul and I want to get on with it.

Walking Church said...

Warning: PERSONAL Cynical Rant:

Strong statements can be painfully truthful. I may be totally out in left field on this one.

Prophets and revolutionaries like Jesus spoke not to appease but to change the status quo.

It has been my experience that 'Trads' have done much to drive seekers/believers out. I have seen Pastors eaten/beaten and cheated by the 'loving body'. I have seen good people hurt by controllers within the body.

Why are baptismal tanks so dry in these lovely church buildings - most are used only for the children of existing converts!

Where is Kingdom being built?

I am thrilled to hear you found shelter in a body - trust it a healthy vibrant one. My personal experience I have seen many hurt and forced out cause they didn't fit the 'club' profile.

I think many churches have much in common with asylms - housing a lot of sick people that will never get better because they are running it themselves and not permitting God to reign over his Kingdom.

End of PERSONAL Salt and Light Rant.

pkotn said...

I don't think you are out in left field, I think this is really your experience.

I didn't find shelter in a body, I did go to a church for help. They introduced me to the great physician. I found shelter in Christ. I haven't seen many of them in years.

You have probably held back with writing what is wrong with the church. I have seen pastors treated just as you have said. I know there are others "called" who are wounded and won't put their families through that. Truth is it is not one sided, if it were one sided (fault only on the church), men and women of God, could just evacuate the "buildings" and start over. But, I have seen Pastors chew up and spit out churches, it was not about Kingdom building, it was about Abuse, Deceit, and Carelessness.

The CHURCH is loved by Christ. Too bad people had to get involved. So called non traditional churches will inevitably have flaws, people will feel left out.

But don't stop.
I love to hear about Kingdom building, regardless of the venue. How are the baptisms outside the churches? I have heard of baptisms in lakes and swimming pools but they are generally "trad" churches.

Walking Church said...

Bless you bros pkton. We are family! In Christ there is much Kingdom to be built. I pray that baptism tanks never get drained! See ya in your waders! RoG