When life becomes crazy and whizzes by at a frantic pace, I need to remind myself about who I am and what I’m supposed to be doing. The introduction to Dallas Willard’s The Great Omission provided the reminder I needed. Here’s a lengthy quote:
“It is a tragic error to think that Jesus was telling us, as he left, to start churches, as that is understood today. From time to time starting a church may be appropriate. But his aim for us is much greater than that. He wants us to establish ‘beachheads’ or bases of operation for the Kingdom of God wherever we are. In this way God’s promise to Abraham — that in him and in his seed all peoples of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:3) — is carried forward toward its realization. The outward effect of this life in Christ is perpetual moral revolution, until the purpose of humanity on earth is completed…
“As disciples of Jesus, we today are a part of God’s world project. But realization of that project, it must never be forgotten, is the effect, not the life itself. The mission naturally flows from the life. It is not an afterthought, or something we might overlook or omit as we live the life. The eternal life, from which profound and glorious effects flow, is interactive relationship with God and with his special Son, Jesus, within the abiding ambience of the Holy Spirit. Eternal life is the Kingdom Walk, where, in seamless unity, we ‘Do justice, love kindness, and walk carefully with our God’ (Micah 6:8). We learn to walk this way through apprenticeship to Jesus. His school is always in session.
“We need to emphasize that the Great Omission from the Great Commission is not obedience to Christ, but discipleship, apprenticeship, to him. Through discipleship, obedience will take care of itself, and we will also escape the snares of judgmentalism and legalism, whether directed toward ourselves or toward others.”
Wow! There is a lot of good refocusing material in those paragraphs. Mission is not an afterthought, but neither is it the aim. Mission is the natural flow from the eternal life within a person. As I have written about in previous posts, Christlikeness is the core of God’s life and mission for his people. Christlikeness is God’s New Creation in human form. And our implementation of God’s mission will not occur unless we are filled with and are living God’s life. We must remember that we are sent as Christ was sent — embodying and living God’s life, kingdom and justice.
Many times, discussions of justice and mission seem like “projects of niceness” that can be performed by just about anyone. And generally speaking, sometimes justice does simply start with kindness and compassion. But the kind of restorative, reconciling justice that God’s mission in the world creates requires the energy of God’s eternal life — that interactive relationship with God and Jesus within the abiding presence of the Spirit — and the likeness of Christ that life produces. God’s life produces embodied Christlikeness from which flow mission and justice.