Book Club Channel
Read an Excerpt from "Godspeed"
You and I are called to imitate and emulate the life of Christ. Part of this, I believe, includes His capacity to enjoy life. Look at what He talked about in the Gospels: the sparrows, the garden, the marketplace, and His interactions with people. Christ was the creator of all things, which God declared good and created for His pleasure. I can't help but think that Jesus enjoyed incarnational life, and that's part of what it means for us to be God's redeemed people.
In the past I put an awful lot of pressure on myself in this area, thinking that every time I got on an airplane I had to share the gospel with the person sitting next to me—or I'd be a failure. There is endless suffering, poverty, and unbelief in the world around us, but every need we see is not an immediate obligation for the Christian.
It's the will of Jesus that dictates mission.
One person posted this on our Missio Christi website: "The goal of my daily life is to listen to the Holy Spirit to discover the mission of Christ."
That's right on target.
If Christ says, "Enjoy this time in the park with your kids," then enjoy time in the park with your kids, and may God be glorified in it. If Christ says, "Minister to the needs of this person" or "Proclaim the gospel to that person," then that is the thing you should do.
To be sent means to do the will, perform the work, and speak the words of the One who sent us. What we see in the Gospels is that Christ did not heal every leper in Israel. When He ascended, there was still sickness and poverty in the land. Jesus didn't cure every blind man nor heal every lame person.
Ephesians 2:10 reads, "We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." The will of Christ dictates mission because all mission is Christ's mission!
Part of the challenge and the adventure of the Christian life is learning how to listen to the Spirit so we can respond to the needs around us. We have to trust that the Holy Spirit is already working in the lives of people around us, and we need to pay attention to see how and then cooperate with it. If you shift your ministry to be merely need focused, you'll be ruined, discouraged, and utterly overwhelmed.
We're not need driven. We're call driven.
And we're led by the Spirit of God.
Many of us divide "God stuff" and "my stuff" in our lives. We compartmentalize and privatize faith in our communities, in our homes, and in our hearts.
Jesus never made this separation.
Think of where He spent His time. Do the Gospels typically show Jesus in the temples and the synagogues? In other words, was He most likely to be found at church? Of the fifty-two parables Jesus told, forty-five of them took place in the market context. Of the 132 public appearances Jesus made, 122 of them occurred in the marketplace.
In the mission of Christ, the disciples and the early church followed suit. Of the forty miracles recorded in the book of Acts, thirty-nine of them occurred in the marketplace.
We see in the New Testament that Christ did most of His ministry and mission where people spent most of their time—at work. This evidence rings in our ears, because the life of the typical, modern American church is flipped. The place Christ worked most often, in the midst of the culture of the day, is the very place that American Christians have most often evacuated.
Britt Merrick is the founding pastor of Reality, a network of churches with locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Ventura, Stockton, Santa Barbara, and London, England. He is the author of Big God and blogs at www.brittmerrick.com. Britt lives and surfs with his wife, Kate, and their two children in Carpinteria, CA.