Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Jesus on Being Missional 13

In this last in a (and Kris would say too) long (of a) series on how Jesus would understand being missional, I want to look at what is perhaps the most profound of all the ideas mentioned in Matthew 9:35-11:1. Those who are involved in missional work (which is really all of us to one degree or another) and who are especially in the frontiers called liminality are the presence of Christ to others.
There is a chain-link from you and me in our missional presentation of Kingdom to God. Notice these words of Jesus, and let them stagger you if you can:
“The one who receives you [the missioner], receives me, and the one who receives me receives the one who sent me” (Matthew 10:40).
And then Jesus begins at the top of missionally-oriented vocations and works down: prophets, righteous person (the Tsadiq), and then another saying is added and it seems to refer to the ordinary benevolent actions of anyone who helps even the smallest of humans — if this is done missionally in the name of Jesus, the person will not only be rewarded but will know the sacred splendor of representing Jesus Christ to others. Doesn’t matter what you are called to do, you are to be the presence of Christ to others.
Which means: the missional call is essentially the call to incarnate Jesus in our work. It means we are not on our own, it means this is not about us, it means this is not about programs and size and glory, but about being Jesus to others by surrendering who we are and what we do to the Kingdom calls us into.
I’m guessing one question Jesus would have asked his missioners is this, or something like this, “Did the people around you see me in you?” We might ask about numbers and changes and impact, but Jesus would ask “Whom did they see in you?”

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posted September 9, 2005 at 10:35 am

For the past few days i’ve been monitoring some of the discussions on Jesus Creed as you may have noticed… i’ve even thrown in a few of my ‘penny’s worth’ here and there. Once again you are hitting the nail on the head. In all the discussions of getting the church back on track (the current manifestation for many is the “emerging” movement) it really does come back to this, “Whom did they see in you?” If you were to continue on with the missional topic in Matt. I’m sure you would point us eventually to the echo of these words (10:40ff) in 25:31ff.
An observation: I love it that Jesus directs his followers to pray to the Lord of the harvest for more workers and then turns right around to those “prayers” and in essence says “Surprise! You are my answere to that prayer! Now here’s what you do….”
Thanks for making your work available to us,

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Jeff Kuhn

posted September 9, 2005 at 12:17 pm

I’d like to gently disagree with your wife on this one. This has been a great series. I’m with Dan, you’re giving us lots to think about and hitting the nail right on the head. Thanks alot.
PS. Post #10 is not filed under missional. I appreciate the categories that you have developed they make it easy for me to get at all the related material.

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Stacey Littlefield

posted September 9, 2005 at 12:19 pm

This reminds me of a comment shared with me by a pastor I know in Pittsburgh. And it wasn’t original with him. I can’t remember who said it first, but it was this: “God is not coming back for a church full of people; he’s coming back for a people full of God.” Corny, perhaps, but packed, too.
It seems to me that the fuller we are of God, the more faithful our lives (and churches) will be to the mission and the Good News. Evangelism and mission, then, begin (per a previous post on this passage) with a deepening relationship with God in Christ. Gone is the dichotomy so many are fond of which places care for the Church on one side and outreach to the community on the other.

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posted September 9, 2005 at 4:16 pm

This is probably not the best spot to put the following reflections, but I do so because it may stimulate a new discussion in the near future.
I am currently reading Emerson’s Essays. I read Thoreau and Dickinson years ago. My reading of Emerson makes me see some parallel frustrations among Emergent folk over formalistic/dead? Christianity. As you well know, Brian McLaren studied Romanticism in college and grad. school.
Emerson’s disillusionment made him leave the “orthodox faith.” McLaren seems to be wanting to hold on, though others would say his grip slipped long ago.
I am curious if you have read much of Emerson and whether you see parallels as well.

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Scot McKnight

posted September 9, 2005 at 4:33 pm

I’ve read a little of Emerson; I think you’d have to ask Brian to see if he thinks Emerson has influenced him.

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Charlie Wear

posted September 9, 2005 at 11:56 pm

I think C.S. Lewis might have said that when we are “incarnating” the mission of Jesus we are being our “truest selves.” This is probably the same thing you are saying, but I like to think that in following Jesus I can discover the person that God created me to be…

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jeremy bouma

posted September 10, 2005 at 2:53 am

This was a great wrap-up to a great series! One of the things I constantly say to guys with whom I meet on Capitol Hill is that they are called to “be Jesus” to the people around them within the Hill community, to live incarnationally. In fact, I am writing a small group study called “Incarnational Living” which looks at how we are to be Jesus’ eyes, ears, heart, feet, hands, mind and mouth.
But one of the struggles I have is getting them to catch this vision, this kingdom vision of being Jesus to the world in which they are placed (whether that is Capitol Hill Washington or Nowheresville, USA…). I don’t think I’ve ever asked a question of you in response to your writings so here it goes: how can I cast this vision to young adults to be Jesus in the world? What should I say, how should I present it, etc…?
Just curious…

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Ted Gossard

posted September 10, 2005 at 3:18 am

Excellent thoughts Scot. And stimulating good comments (as usual).
The image of Christians has suffered immensely due to the misrepresentation of faith (in my view) by some in high profile. And also due to our own failure in our missing the point as to who we are and are to become in Jesus.
We certainly need a revolution of revelation to ourselves first, and then through us to the world. That the servant would be like our Master.

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Ted Gossard

posted September 10, 2005 at 3:20 am

….and- That people would see Jesus.

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Scot McKnight

posted September 10, 2005 at 8:45 am

Such an American question: “How”?
My own theory is this: teach the appropriate passages clearly with plenty of interaction; show the value and importance of these passages and their ideas; then develop some strategies of how to work this out in real life; then work on assessing whether or not people are letting these things work themselves out in real life.
So, perhaps a good solid 3-month long study of Matthew 10 or the major passages on “representing Christ.” Then work on working it out. Hope this helps.
The comments on this series have been encouraging.

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posted September 10, 2005 at 1:04 pm

My mentors for real life examples of you point out to us here, Scot, are my mom and dad. Neither of them will ever be recognized on the national or international scene, no books, no articles in journals, no pulpit, no seminars, but if you could see back over their lives you’d see a life long history of the essence of what we are talking about here. The thing is, neither of them would ever think in these terms. How they have loved and served family, friends, neighbors, strangers, was just what they did sometimes at rather substantial personal cost and it flows out of their love for the Lord. They ‘simply’ do it!
What makes them so authentic in this is their seeming unawareness of what they do.

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