This last section looks at Missions from the standpoint of Missions practice. As such, it is not, strictly speaking, drawn from the theme “Walking With.” Rather it is dialogue between practice and principle. I believe that the basic principles flow from the Biblical understanding of “walking with.”
God (as drawn from the OT) relates to His own in terms of walking with. In this we are to be close to Him relationally, guided by Him, based on humility and love. Failure to walk with God in this sense is what we call “sin.”
Christ relates to us in line with God’s relationship with us as described in the Old Testament. The addition is that Jesus modeled this abstract concept with the incarnation. The call of Christ is to follow Him. We have the obligation to choose to follow Christ or follow the path of the world.
The Church is called upon to love the world… but rejecting the path that the world is on. Rather, the church is to follow the path of truth, righteousness, and peace while in the world. Our call is to proclaim the message of God, and prepare the way for Christ.
How can we relate this to missions?
1. God leads. This may be obvious. But God leads us in the paths of righteousness and the way we should go. God is on mission (refer to Blackaby and Willis in “On Mission with God.”).
2. We follow. As a disciple, we follow Christ. In joining God on His mission, we are sent out by Him… still being led by Him.
3. We go. We live led by God in the ways of righteousness, but in the world. As such, we follow the model of Christ in dwelling and interacting with those who are on the wrong path. We prepare the way for Christ in this world by inviting people to join us in following God… the straight path. As John Perkins notes with regards to Christian Community Development, relocation (as in moving into the community in which transformation is sought). It seems like this principle should be applied beyond the narrow bounds of community development.
4. We model. Invitation is not enough. The path of God is characterized by Righteousness, Love, Peace, and Truth. As we share truth, promote peace, practice love, and seek righteousness, we decorate the Gospel.
5. They choose. Regardless of one’s opinion about freewill and God’s election, from a human perspective… people choose. They choose the path that they desire. Ideally, as they see the path, process, and life Christians are on, they desire it, and follow you as you follow Christ. Hopefully soon they will understand that they are following Christ and you are only assisting them in that path.
Okay… this is pretty simple set of items… some might describe them as self-evident. But in missions nothing seems to be self-evident. I would like to suggest there are some aspects of missions that don’t fit into this set of principles.
A. Distance missions. Just send money is not missions. I am in missions so I certainly don’t mind if people send money. But missions is incarnational. It involves face-to-face and heart-to-heart experiences.
B. Propositional evangelism. It is okay to memorize the Romans Road or Evangelism Explosion or the Wordless Book. But truth is not enough. Christian missions is based on living out God’s path in a process. Propositional evangelism is of value only within the context of godly living in interactive relationships with others.
C. Futurist focus. Christianity is a hear and now religion. The path we were given is in this world. We can, rightly, be comforted in a confident future. But that in no way means we should minimize the importance of where we are, who we are, and what we are doing… here. Faithfully walking the path God has placed for us is more important than setting dates for His imminent (or perhaps delayed) return.
D. Militant focus. We may be justified in singing “Onward Christian Soldiers” and I was in the military and believe that there is good in the military and in militaristic symbols. However, our relationship with the world should be more characterized by love, peace, and righteousness, than by militaristic (both offensive and defensive) metaphors.
E. Signs and Wonders, and Power Encounter. Christian missions is described best in day by day faithful living that relates to the world around us with truth, love, peace, and righteousness. This sort of living provides a considerable challenge to others when they compare it to the lies, selfishness, conflict, and sinfulness that surrounds them. Miracles certainly may have their place… but there “non-ordinariness” suggests that they are not part of the normal Christian ministry. In fact, sadly, sometimes miracles are done (whether actual works of God or works of chicanery) in place of truth, truth, peace, and righteousness.
F. Narrow definition of missions. Missions is following Christ and living out the path He has given. In certain circumstances it may be useful to define missions in terms of profession, in terms of cultural bridging, in terms of finance, or in terms of calling. But ultimately, we indeed are meant to be on missions and as long as we are alive on earth we are in the mission field.
This ends my 6 part (it was going to be 5 part) series seeking to look at missions theology through the theme of “walking with.” I hope it has some value to some.
- On the Theme “Walking With” : A Missions Theology. Part 5 (munsonmissions.org)
- On the Theme “Walking With”: a Missions Theology. Part 4 (munsonmissions.org)
- On the Theme “Walking With”: a Missions Theology. Part 3 (munsonmissions.org)
- On the Theme “Walking With”: a Missions Theology. Part 1 (munsonmissions.org)
- Christian Missions through the Lens of the 14th Century (munsonmissions.org)
- On the Theme “Walking With”: a Missions Theology. Part 2 (munsonmissions.org)
- The Righteousness of God is a gift, it is our armor, a pathway, a weapon for defense and our protection from the enemy -given to us through Christ Jesus (prepareforthelamb.wordpress.com)