by Greg Henson, CEO Kairos University; President of Sioux Falls Seminary and David Williams, Kairos Executive Partner; President of Taylor Seminary
In his book, The Mission of God, Christopher Wright paints a picture of the missionary nature of God by helping us see and consider the story – the grand narrative – of Scripture. This story is one of redemption and restoration – of putting things right. To Wright, the mission of God is what unifies the Bible from creation to new creation.
When reading scripture, it is not too difficult to see the ongoing theme of being sent. Brad Brisco helpfully points out that the verb “to send” is used over 200 times in the Old Testament with God as the subject of the verb. We see it throughout the historical books, the poetic books, and the prophecy books of the Old Testament. In the gospels, acts, and epistles, we see it as well. In Luke 4, we see Jesus quoting Isaiah 61 when he says, “…He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners…”
In John 20:21, we read the words of Jesus where he says, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” While this passage is often used when people are talking about the missionary nature of God, the fact is that the language and theme of “being sent” are spread throughout the gospel of John. As we read through John, we see the Son being sent by God the Father while the Father and Son send the Spirit. We also see the Spirit sending the Church.
Listing the passages of scripture that highlight the language and/or theme of being sent is a task that could go on for quite some time. Rather than listing verse after verse in this post, I’d like to turn our attention to why it matters. Why do we need to pay attention to the fact that God is a missionary God? While there are a number of helpful ways to answer that question, I’d like to focus on two: 1) Movement and 2) Invitation.
While it is true that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, the fact is God is not static. Unwavering, yes. Unmoving, no. From the beginning, we see God moving. Moving to be with Adam and Eve. Walking with Enoch. Traveling in the wilderness with the Israelites. Setting aside glory, taking on humanity, and coming to earth. Walking from place to place proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom (despite his disciple’s encouragement to tarry in certain places). Meeting Saul on the road to Damascus. Descending on the gathering at Pentecost. Coming into the house of Cornelius. The Triune God is a God of movement. To be on mission is to be moving. In Luke, we see Jesus send the 72 ahead of him “to every town and place where he was about to go.” As we read through Scripture and step back to see that grand narrative, we see a God that is always on the move, always at work to reconcile the world.
When we look at that grand narrative, we also see a running theme of invitation. God invites God’s people to join with God in the work. We are to be co-laborers in his vineyard (1 Cor 3:9), invited to be creative stewards in Genesis, and sent by Jesus. And, in 1 Corinthians 9:23, we see Paul saying, “I do all these things because of the gospel so that I can be a participant in it.” We are invited to follow Jesus into the fields for the “harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” (Matt 9:37).
As a community of people who call Jesus Lord, Kairos is following Jesus on mission. That’s why we talk about “stewarding followers of Jesus who flourish in their vocations for the sake of the world.” In practice, this means we are a community of movement because we follow a God who moves.
The questions we must continually ask, then, are ones of discernment and direction. God is moving which means we must invest time and energy in discerning where God is moving and how we might join with him. Let’s jump into that next week!