Wednesday, October 18, 2006

community and mission

The American myth of the rugged individual (see last post), for the Jesus community, needs to be morphed into thinking as a community together in the Triune God. And this community being missional- on mission in Jesus to the world.

This mission is about a holistic gospel whose vision is the kingdom of God come in Jesus. It has to do with all that God reconciles to himself in Christ, all creation. So it means an attitude, on the part of us in the Jesus community, that all peoples as well as all of God's creation matters.

As Jesus told his disciples, "As the Father sent me, so I am sending you." We receive the Holy Spirit in this context for mission. We are Christ's Body to the world.

As Christ's Body we must be "hands on". Doing this together. But each having our unique part. While it's not about any of us, or even all of us together, we each have our unique contribution in this mission. This includes concerns from saving an animal from extinction to concern and love expressed for our neighbor across the street. And everything in between. A general interest to us all, while each have our own special interests.

This post anticipates my next post on Scot McKnight's profound book, Embracing Grace: A Gospel for All of Us. Taking ideas from the chapter we will look at next.

Have you seen a faith community that seemed strong on community, at least for a time, but lacked a proper missional focus beyond its own communal concerns? Of course strong community is important and needed, but in Jesus' eyes is only as strong as their abilility to come to live not only to themselves, but to the world in bringing the gospel in Jesus to bear on it. What seems to happen to such a community that seems more than less turned in on itself? What does a community look like that is missional, and how might that compare with a community that is weak in missional focus? We must beware thinking any two local communities must be the same in how they live out the mission in Jesus. For just as each individual member of Christ's Body is unique, so surely each community of the Body of Christ in the world, is likewise unique in its expression of faith and mission in the following of Jesus in the world.

6 comments:

Dr. D said...

Nice - the community of Christ is the sand for- not in- the Oyster. Grit - real, honest, hard working, sometimes even, hard spined, grit is what is needed. Love and grit- are the same. If we stand for nothing, we will fall for anything. Standing for Jesus in a world where grit is respected but not necessarily liked, is an honor. We need to hold one another up, 'cause, those who don't love Christ are surely not goint to hold us up. One thing is certain, we will stand together, or we will hang separately- but in Christ, never alone!

Andy Blanks said...

Ted,
Wow, you really have me thinking today. Something from your post jumped out at me. You wrote:
"What seems to happen to such a community that seems more than less turned in on itself?"
I have recently had an experience with a group of people who were so united with one another. There was a tremendous depth to their faith. These people were so committed to enriching and feeding their community. But they did very little to affect the world around them for Christ. I passed through this community revering their commitment to growing with one another in Christ, but lamenting their hesitance to go into the world in Jesus' name.

Great post, Ted!

Ted Gossard said...

Dr. D,

Good point. To do well in God's will as community certainly does require a commitment to mission, which involves the call to be as Jesus in this world. Certainly a call that will bring sometimes no little conflict with the powers of "the world", resistant to the word of reconciliation.

And isn't it interesting that often where the light of the gospel through the church has shined the brightest, is in the most resistant places on earth, where the church has had to suffer much! Thanks.

Ted Gossard said...

Andy,

Thanks.

I wonder if communities sometimes pass through phases in their own growth and maturity. Surely that is the case. And we're thinking here of church communities.

I think of Acts where in chapter 2 we read of the remarkable fellowship and commitment the early church had to each other. Yet, arguably, they seemed slow to move out in their witness. Though they may have not been ready to do so.

Then persecution comes, and the church begins to scatter and preach the gospel. Maybe this was all a part of development. I believe it can be.

On the other hand, there are groups that, while having alot going for them, as you well express it, really seem to have no real commitment to mission. This is an ongoing problem, and something many, especially of the younger generation, are wrestling with, in their quest to better understand and live out what it means to be church in this world.

I think it has to be worked out in terms of all that we are and do. That our vocation is of those on mission who do it in various ways. Hopefully our work contributing directly to this mission of the gospel in different ways.

L.L. Barkat said...

That outward thing is a difficult line... not enough and we become ingrown, too much and we exhaust ourselves or lose focus...

Also, I guess I depend on different groups to supply both intimacy and outwardness... each group really does have its own realities and strengths.

Ted Gossard said...

L.L.

I think what you say is true. Different groups can exist for different reasons. Or can go through different seasons.

At the same time, I'm thinking more in terms of the community of Jesus as in the church. The church as the Body of Christ on earth, is by nature missional. But it is also, by nature, self-caring and self-sustaining through Christ.

So of necessity is the tie between community and mission, I believe.

Thanks.