Joining God in Shaping our Future and the Jesus Movement are different metaphors which express the same thing: that we are being invited by God and Jesus to join them in their work. For several centuries in the Christian West, the concept of "mission" has carried the underlying conviction that the person who engages in mission is bringing God to places where God is not. Not only is there a spiritual arrogance to that posture, it also suggests that the "missionary" had better know as much as they can about God and Jesus before venturing out into the world at all. And so, feeling self-conscious about their lack of understanding of things biblical and theological, people have been inclined to stay home, or remain confined in their church silos.
Joining God in Shaping our Future and the Jesus Movement highlight the difference between BRINGING THE FAITH and GOING OUT IN FAITH. This represents a significant shift in the way we claim God's mission, and how we engage in ministry.
When we go out in faith, we do so with a confidence that we will meet with God, and God will meet with us – and our faith, theology and awareness of God's presence will grow as a result. But the confidence can be mitigated by a feeling of risk, because we are not surrounded by the hymns, prayers, candles and congregation that reinforce God's presence, and can give us the unintended sense that God is not present unless all those ecclesiastical symbols and images are present as well.
As the world becomes more confusing and scary, as morality becomes more relative and as truth is reduced to a sound bite that appeals to people's prejudices, I am more and more grateful for our Christian symbols and story which are brilliantly woven together in Christian worship. All of that grounds me, revives me – and sends me out to join God in doing God's work.
As I continue to deepen my appreciation for Dwelling in the Word, a practice which invites my creativity and imagination as I read and re-read passages of scripture, I find myself more freed up from the pressure to absorb what some expert says about the passage, and instead can pay attention to what the text is saying to me – and what the passage is inviting me to do.
We learn the biblical story by becoming modern-day actors in it. We deepen our faith by living in it, and having the confidence that God is with us as we do so. We help to build God's realm of hope, love and justice by daring to join God in that geographical or spiritual place where we can listen as well as act, where we can both discover our gifts and lift up the giftedness of others.