This is the third of our four Distinctive Values.
Our third Distinctive Value is:
by Adam Alexander
Missionally Driven:We are committed to embracing the mission, understanding the demands of the mission, and living out the mission of God.
I love butterflies. So much so that my boys are always coloring pictures of them for me or shouting for me to look when they see one flutter by on our walks around the neighborhood. While my love for butterflies may seem a little odd to you, it is rooted in something much more symbolic than just a winged insect.
The reason I love butterflies is because of the picture it seems to imitate of the work of Christ in the gospel. I recognize that all illustrations break down in some ways, but just stay with me for this one. You see, before a butterfly was a butterfly, it was a caterpillar. A caterpillar who walked around, just crunching on leaves, with an inability to fly. Then something miraculous happens. That caterpillar goes through a transformation and comes out as a new creature, a butterfly on the other side. This new creation doesn’t need to walk anymore but now because of its transformation can actually fly! I don’t know about you but when I’ve visited butterfly gardens (yes, they exist and yes, I have been) the butterflies aren’t just walking around. That wouldn’t make sense. They were transformed and they were transformed to fly.
That’s how it is connected to us and to this distinctive value. We were transformed, made new, rescued, and redeemed for a very specific purpose. And that purpose was to live on mission for the glory of God. But the problem is that many of us aren’t doing that. We don’t live driven by the mission of God. We are butterflies walking around like caterpillars. And that doesn’t make sense.
Before we can go any further, we must be able to define the mission of God. Let’s break it down as simply as we can, the mission of God is to fill the earth with His glory (Psalm 72:19). Here at Summit, we define the mission this way: Summit Church exists to glorify God by making disciples who represent the Gospel to every man, woman, and child.
This is what we were made for. We were made, rescued, and redeemed to be a people that live on mission for the glory of God. So, what does it really look like when we live missionally-driven?
Let’s take a minute and consider Paul’s writing in 2 Corinthians 5. Beginning in verse 17,
“17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
In this passage, Paul lays out a cycle of redemption and it goes like this:
1. We become a new creature in Christ.
2. We are given the ministry of reconciliation.
3. We make an appeal for others to be reconciled.
4. God does the reconciling.
5. They become new creatures in Christ.
Guess what happens when we live this cycle of redemption out on a consistent basis wherever we live, work, and play? THE GLORY OF GOD FILLS THE EARTH! What incredible news!
Here is the beauty of all this, that God is inviting and using all His people into this missional lifestyle. It’s not just pastors, elders, missionaries, or church workers…it’s all Christ’s people taking part in the activity of God. And it is that way, because it is God doing the work. We are merely earthen vessels (2 Corinthians 4:7) that display the surpassing greatness of the power of God.
So, what does this look like for us today?
EMBRACE THE MISSION
First, we embrace the mission. When I come home from work, my two-year old son Benjamin runs to me and throws his arms around my neck and won’t let go. This is what it means to embrace. It means to cling tightly to. When we understand the work of the Gospel in our own lives (we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone!) the only possible, reasonable response is to live differently as a missional ambassador.
UNDERSTAND WHAT THE MISSION DEMANS OF US
Second, we understand what the mission demands of us. Peter declares our identity this way, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession…” But then he tells us why this is our identity, “to proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9) It means that we are reconciled to be ministers of reconciliation. We must daily pick up our cross (Luke9:23), open our mouths (Ephesians 6:19), and make an appeal (2 Corinthians 5:20).
LIVE OUT THE MISSION
Finally, we live as missional ambassadors. We go to our neighborhoods, our job sites, our restaurants, our homes, our golf courses, our kids sporting events, our schools…and we go with the purpose of living on mission for the glory of God. The hope of the Gospel transforms us so that we think different, we live different, and we speak different. Everything we do, we do for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).
I will leave you with a paraphrase of one of my favorite stories in the Bible (if you have never read Isaiah 6:1-8, stop what you are doing and read it now). The prophet Isaiah has this vision where he enters the throne room of God and immediately recognizes his own depravity in light of the holiness of God and declares, “I deserve to die!”. And then all the sudden an angel of the Lord flies over, touches his lips, and declares that his sin is forgiven and his iniquities have been taken away. And then guess what? Isaiah now gets to hang out in the throne room of God! We don’t know how long, but it was certainly long enough for him to overhear the trinity having a conversation. The trinity asks these questions, “Who will go for us? Whom shall we send?”. When Isaiah hears these questions, I imagine that he is beside himself and then he declares (my paraphrase) “Are you kidding me?! You are going to send someone to do your work?! I deserved to die, yet you gave me life! Here I am, send me!”
If you know the message Isaiah brought to the nation of Israel, you know it wasn’t pretty. But for Isaiah the thought of being a missional ambassador outweighed it all! Oh, how I would pray that would be true for me and true for you…that we would become a people that live out the mission of God by the power of God for the glory of God all the days of our life!