Adding Our Word to God’s Word

 

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I believe in living missionally in the world. I believe we are called to co-create the world around us by adding our word to God’s word of redemption and restoration. You see, we are created in the image of a God who spoke, gave his word, to creating realities.

God spoke the word “Light!” and there was light.

God spoke the word “Trees!” and trees sprang forth from the ground.

Creation exists and is sustained by the very word of God. And we are created in the image of the word-speaking creator God. Which means, our words have the power to create realities. No, we cannot create something from nothing with our words, but our words create powerfully real realities. Call someone an “idiot” or “loser” or “slut” and try deny the reality you create. I often think we do not fully grasp the power harbored in the depth of our words.

God has spoken redemption and restoration over the world. He has given his word by the giving us of his Word, and he did so because he so loved the world. Salvation, redemption, is an invitation to co-create a new reality, a new world, by the adding of our word to God’s word.

For me, this is what it means to live missionally in the world.

But “missional” has been reduced to a buzz word that means nothing because it means all things. Churches have adopted missional language without adopting missional ideals. Outreach has been relabeled. Church growth rebranded. House churches made into missional communities.

It means everything and it means nothing.

So here is my feeble definition. Actually, it isn’t my definition at all, but is a definition I have learned through my friend, Jim, and his amazing organization Faithwalking¬†(check out the website for more information).

Missional Living is taking responsibility for the condition of the land by giving your word to its restoration.

Last week my friend, Glennon, posted an amazing story of a teacher who took responsibility for the condition of her classroom.¬†That’s missional living. That teacher saw that something was broken. Something was not as it should be. And didn’t sit back and wait for someone to do something, but took responsibility and did what she could to improve the condition of the land.

I don’t want to negate what that woman did, in fact, I want to hold it up as an example of what it means to live missionally. But I want to take it farther. What if, rather than one teacher taking responsibility for one classroom, every teacher took responsibility for the entire school? What if it was not a solitary endeavor, but teachers got together to take responsibility for the school beyond teaching? What if they got together every Friday to consider the condition of the “land” that is the school?

What if pastors and churches got together to consider the condition of the land? Not just the spiritual condition – although that is important, but the physical and emotional condition of the land? What if they got out of their holy huddle and worked with city officials and other organizations for the condition of the land?

What if parents took responsibility for the condition of the schools and didn’t pass it off on teachers and administrators?

What if you took responsibility for the condition of the gym you go to? The Starbucks you frequent?

What if you took responsibility for your block? You neighborhood? Your street by giving your word to its wholeness and restoration?

Currently, I am in conversations with city officials trying to figure out how churches can come alongside the city to better our community. Our most recent idea is utilizing the immense amount of land that church own to create community gardens where fresh produce is donated to local food pantries. Is it going to fix hunger? Nope. But will help? Yes. And it will lead to other ideas and opportunities for all of us to take responsibility for the condition of the land.

I’m no expert in this. I am a fellow learner who is not satisfied with the way things are, and fully believing that God wants to use his people in his restorative work.

Let us not be fooled, we cannot try and do this by ourselves. The task it too big. Too much needs to be done. The world needs the people of God to work together and take responsibility for the land. We need to collaborate, forming groups of people who are willing to give their word to the restoration of the land. Christians are not simply saved from our sins, but we are saved to the epic task of joining God in his redemptive work in this world.

And so we pray “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” and ask for the Spirit to help us keep our word as we work for restoration.

 

What about you? What needs do you see around you? What would it mean to give your word and take responsibility for the condition of the land?

photo credit: Broo_am (Andy B) via photopin cc

Comments

  1. Savannah Hadden says

    James 1:27 puts a great emphasis on taking care of the poor and widows, but shouldn’t living missionally and speaking redemption and restoration into our world mean more than social justice? Because in this definition with the primary examples of more social justice-type issues, anyone could live missionally. What would make a Christian living missionally look different from the rest of the world taking responsibility for issues and making the world a “better place”?

    • says

      The major difference is the motivation behind why we take responsibility for the world. Christians do so because they want to see heaven’s will don’t on earth. We want God’s shalom to be experienced.

      In the story of Jonah, we see the pagan sailors call out Jonah for failing to take responsibility to help them in the storm. They were doing everything they could to make the situation better and Jonah slept. Jonah, the man of God, was rebuked by the pagans.

      Christians need to learn from this. For too long we have stood idly by why the storm raged around us. Trying to make a distinction denies the fact that we are to be a blessing to the entire world. I do not believe we are called to make distinction as we seek to serve the world. That isn’t to say we don’t talk about why we do what we do. We simply need to love and bless, and then walk through doors as they open for conversation.

        • kurt penner says

          Hey it worked! Sorry computer glitch on my first post. Love the idea of a community garden, teaming up with city officials to create something positive. A few of us here in Canada have gotten involved in a program called Naskarz. [never again steal cars] Started by a Vancouver policeman, it has grown into something pretty cool http://www.naskarz.com A similar program in Detroit http://driveone.net started by a Methodist pastor and some friends. We use custom cars to attract inner city youth, and bridge that into mentoring, vocational skills, life skills and great relationships. Funny thing is many christians don’t get what we are doing, but we see God’s hand in a huge way, even though the programs are not “religeous”
          Keep up the great thoughts, your words are inspiring to me.
          Kurt

      • Steven Parrish says

        Nate,

        While you would like to ignore distinctions, the Bible does not. The nation of Israel was distinct from the rest of the nations or the world. That being the case, the purpose they served was to draw people of the nations to pure worship of the only living God. As such, their life style were not governed by what the world did but rather on the Law or the word of God at that time. They did not have a commission to preach but they did have a commission to teach and accept any who wanted to worship this true God Jehovah (since there were many gods back then as there are today).

        First century Christians were distinct also. They lived their lives according to the teachings of the Christ (Law of the Christ) which in all cases was the fulfillment of the Law (The Law mediated through Moses). They had as they do today a commission to preach and teach. But they were to be no part of the world just as Jesus was not part of the world. They did not as they do not now have a commission to help the world get better. That would not be prudent or rational thinking since the whole world is lying in the power of the Wicked One ( the one called Devil and Satan). As they were then is as they should be now, helping people to get out of the world. The world of mankind is alienated from God either by choice or ignorance. We can thank Adam and the Devil for our disposition towards God.

        Nevertheless, Jehovah has not held what happened in the Garden against mankind in totality. He has provided a means by which mankind as well as the earth can be restored back to perfection according to his expressed will and purpose, not ours. Christians must recognized the Christ as the channel by which mankind can be reconciled to Jehovah God. This is what the Good News of God’s Kingdom is all about. Clearly, if people hope to survive the impending destruction through the Great Tribulation with Armageddon being the climax, there will need to be a clear distinction between those worshiping in truth and those adhering to this world.

  2. Scott Emery says

    Great stuff here, Nate. I’ve often wondered how we can depict “missional” as it relates to creation/ecology. In its current form – everything is missional therefore nothing is missional – doesn’t help in connecting the two. This, however, is helpful. Thanks.

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