I hate that awkward experience when you think someone is waving at you only to discover when you wave back that they were actually waving at someone else. It’s so embarrassing.
Recently, I was fortunate enough to be humbled yet again through this awkward experience. I was at church, of all places, when I caught someone waving out of the corner of my eye. I recognized them, but I didn’t know them well, and I was slightly confused about why they would be waving at me. I glanced around, but didn’t see anyone else, so I slowly raised my arm to wave back. It was at this point when they smiled and pointed, and I looked behind me to see the person they were communicating with. While we all kind of laughed about the experience, it was an embarrassing reminder that the world does not revolve around me.
One of the lessons that we all have to learn at some point is that the world does not revolve around us. As children, we think that we are the center of attention, so we laugh when we are happy and cry when we are sad. As we get older we are supposed to mature out of this stage. Yet at times we still find ourselves thinking we are the center of attention. At some point we have to realize that it’s not all about us. We are simply playing a minor or supporting role in the story. The story is about God.
This is especially true when we consider missional living. We have been starting to change our paradigm recently to realize that we are being sent. Our goal is not just to escape from the world, or even try to get the world to come to “church.” Instead, our goal is to view ourselves as being sent into the world to proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is near. Our task is to take the good news of the kingdom to the places that we inhabit; where we work, live, and play. As we change our paradigm, it’s easy to become overwhelmed because the task seems harder. We weren’t trained for this. No one taught us how to live missionally. But, we start to trust God, recognizing that if God is sending us God will provide for us. Still, we have to realize, we are not on mission promoting ourselves or our church, we are promoting God. God is the center of the story.
Consider Jesus’s sending of the seventy in Luke 10. Jesus sends the seventy out in pairs to “all the towns and places where he himself intended to go.” The seventy are sent specifically to places Jesus is intending to go. Jesus is going to follow them, all they have to do is plant seeds.
Or consider the story of Moses in Exodus. God comes to Moses at the burning bush and sends him to Egypt to lead the people out of slavery to the promised land. Yet God is constantly reminding Moses that God is actually the one who will bring redemption. “I have heard my people. I have seen their misery. I will rescue them. I will bring them out with my mighty hand. I the Lord will do this.” While Moses is sent, and plays an important role, God is the one bringing redemption. It is God’s mission.
Our task is not to redeem the world. Our task is to announce the kingdom. God’s mission is to redeem and restore what was lost, and God invites us to join in God’s mission. We have a role to play, to announce the kingdom, but the story is still about what God is doing. It’s still God’s mission.
I appreciate the way Paul speaks to the Corinthians when considering different roles. “I planted and Apollos watered, but God caused the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:6) Our job may be to simply plant the seed. God will send another to water. But ultimately, God is the one in charge.
Thus missional living is about joining God’s mission in what God is doing. As we love in Jesus’s name. As we share a cup of cold water. As we reach out to co-workers. As we invite neighbors to our homes. As we strive to display kindness at the restaurant, we are planting seeds. We are going on mission with God. And God will cause the growth.
We have but one simple task, to proclaim the kingdom of heaven is at hand. God will do the rest, because it’s God’s mission.