What Gospel Mission Looks Like Right Now
The question isn’t “what do I want?” but “where am I called?”
Paul and Barnabas went their separate ways. Paul thought that Mark posed too much risk for the mission of the gospel. So Paul took up another ministry partner and pursued the mission. Barnabas determined to take Mark with him and continue the mission of ‘encouragement.’ So they split, both of them pursuing the mission to the best of their abilities.
A different question
In this week's sermon, Pastor Matt challenged us to change our question. Are we focused on what we want or where we're called? Nearly every hour of the day we’re faced with a series of choices: make coffee, buy Starbucks, drink water? Merge when it’s safe or try to get ahead of this last car? Grumble through the first hours of work or give thanks to God? Eat healthy or eat tasty? Pressure the kids to pick up the slack or devote yourself to serving them?
And in the midst of all our options, our default gear is WANT. I want Starbucks, I want to be ahead, I want to feel more appreciated, I want fried twinkies, and I want my kids to be better.
Few of these options seem directly related to the mission, but as the book of Proverbs teaches us… one poor decision leads you to a place where your next options are a little more limited. Poor decisions are their own worst outcome… have you ever wondered, “How did this happen? How are the only options bad options?” Biblical wisdom wants to guide us and remind us that wise choices often lead to more opportunities for more good and wise choices. Wise decisions are their own reward.
When I choose water, maybe coffee; when I choose patience and contentment; when I choose gratitude; when I choose health; when I choose service and grace, I’m opening up a whole vista of opportunities for the gospel mission to find expression. I’ve taken care of my body and saved money, so maybe I’ll be able to go to Guatemala next year. I’ve not become irritated and aggressive, so maybe that annoying coworker will find a listening ear today. I’m a recipient of God’s grace, so maybe I’ll be able to show grace to others. I’ve chosen health, so maybe my body will be ready to help others and care for my family; and future-me will have the energy to carry on the mission. I’ve chosen to serve, so maybe when I tell my children that Jesus loves them, they’ll know what that looks like.
Daily life has a way of blinding us to the big picture of what God is doing in the world. But most of the Bible’s commands for mission are small, not big. The infinite and majestic God who created us and formed us from the dust of the ground. He knows where our feet settle, and he knows that the mission begins in the everyday life of home, church, and work. That’s why his commands aren’t “topple political regimes” but “respect governing authorities.” He doesn’t say “make sure your children become media moguls for vast influence,” but “teach them as they lie down and as they wake up.” He doesn’t say “figure out God’s unknowable will for your life,” but “this is God’s will: your holiness.”
When you say yes
And here’s the good news… Jesus has done it for you. God became human and lived the perfect life on mission. He is Wisdom and Love and Grace. And he lived in daily life, sunrise to sunset, in perfect love. He has sent his Spirit to live with you and give you the strength you need to choose mission over want. Through his Spirit, the perfect love of Christ goes with you everywhere you go. When you say yes to the mission, you are acting in faith; you are living in the life of Christ’s perfect work.
And who knows what new vistas living in Christ’s perfect work will open up?
Perhaps the biggest call of your life begins with the smallest call today.
Manny Boston is Family Pastor at Hope Hull United Methodist Church. In that role, he leads our ministry with children and youth so that they grow into the love and knowledge of Christ.