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Read an Excerpt from "Godspeed"
That's where many Christians leave mission. They see it as difficult, and so they leave it untried. When it comes to living out our beliefs, many non-Christians in our communities look a lot more Christian than we do. I know some of them.
But we need to remember two things.
When it comes to God's kingdom and His gospel going forth, we first need to believe that God is bigger than our blunders. Nowhere do we see this more potently than in the history of the church. If you've ever studied church history, you know the church is probably the messiest thing ever to happen to the world. The fact that it still exists and that people are still a part of this worldwide community is concrete proof that God is bigger than our human blunders.
We have to grasp this truth in our daily lives, because the fact is, we are going to blow it. As people, we're deeply flawed; yet throughout history God has chosen to work through people rather than independent of people.
When we fail, we have an opportunity to model forgiveness and show what the redeeming power of Christ looks like. We can reveal how sweet it is to find our identity in Christ and His work on our behalf because of God's love for us, rather than basing our sense of self-worth on our own performance.
The second thing we have to lay hold of is the power of the gospel. The Christian's good deeds, so to speak, are not merely good deeds. They are purposeful and powerful partnership with God.
That's what it means to be sent: to do the will and the work and to speak the words of the Sender. When we think about speaking and living out the gospel, we're not to see it as a competing ideology or a philosophy in the world. It's the power of God unto salvation, and it works in men and women for transformation.
When we engage in the work of Christ in the world around us—as messy as it is and as bad as we are at it—it yields a different effect in the spiritual realm. If we truly hear what the Spirit is saying and engage in it, there is an impact on the spirits of men and women. The power of God is behind it.
You and I are call driven, not need driven, because Jesus calls us into the work He's already begun—the work that He is faithful to bring to completion. It's Missio Christi.
Whatever Christ does through mission has the power of Christ behind it. The church must rekindle a confidence that the power of the gospel can be communicated through ordinary means: service, sacrifice, kindness, love, and good deeds. Not apart from proclamation but in partnership with it.
The purpose of Ephesians 2:10, the "good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them," is to explain our God to the world. And the fact that God already prepared good works for us frees us from having to come up with good ideas and, rather, to seek His ideas.
GOOD POSTMODERN NEWS
The incarnation denotes culture and context. Christ came as a Jew into Jewish culture and participated in Jewish customs with other Jews. If we're going to do incarnational mission and ministry, we've got to understand some culture and context.
The twenty-first-century American church lives in a postmodern culture. This can be a daunting term, so I want to say a few things about what it means for us.
First, where the modern mind-set was much more concerned with concrete evidence, the postmodern mind-set has shifted. The postmodern mind-set is less concerned with "prove it to me" and much more concerned with "be it to me."
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.