Mission Dei: Incarnation
Missio Dei is the Mission of God. Missio Dei predates the Church, the first coming of Jesus, the New Testament, all the prophets, and really anything you can find in the entire Bible. We have to understand that mission is the very nature of God and therefore isn’t something invented by Paul or the early Church or something rediscovered by 20th century Christians. Mission was brought about by God acting out His love toward people since the very beginning.
We as the people of God acting on behalf of Missio Dei need to see what it means to authentically be on mission: mission as an extension of who we are and not just an act we perform. I just want to scratch the surface a little bit, ruffle some feathers, and give you a practice outlet for what it looks like to be on mission on your campus.
Our goal as members of this Body is to continue formulating real missional community, not a cheap imitation, not pseudo community where mission sometimes happens but not really, but a people where real community is on mission to bring people closer to Jesus. Be careful! A cheap imitation never functions quite the same and even may eventually hijack the original intention. It may initially fool your eyes, but it’s not hard to spot once to see what the real thing looks like.
John 1:1-5,9-14 ERV (Easy-to-Read Version)
1 Before the world began, the Word was there. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was there with God in the beginning. 3 Everything was made through him, and nothing was made without him. 4 In him there was life, and that life was a light for the people of the world. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not defeated it.
9 The true light was coming into the world. This is the true light that gives light to all people. 10 The Word was already in the world. The world was made through him, but the world did not know him. 11 He came to the world that was his own. And his own people did not accept him. 12 But some people did accept him. They believed in him, and he gave them the right to become children of God. 13 They became God’s children, but not in the way babies are usually born. It was not because of any human desire or plan. They were born from God himself. 14 The Word became a man and lived among us. We saw his divine greatness—the greatness that belongs to the only Son of the Father. The Word was full of grace and truth.
This passage is referring to what is theologically called “The Incarnation”. Incarnation is just means “in flesh” – “in“ meaning “in” and “carn” meaning “flesh” (just like carnivore, “flesh-eater”).
Jesus, God the Son who is completely separate, completely other, completely supernatural, and completely God become completely man, put on skin and bones and dirt and sweat and prepared himself to do what no other god had ever been recorded doing. The One True God was coming to work next to and sweat with and serve underneath and ultimately die for all mankind. Gods don’t work, gods don’t sweat, gods don’t serve, and definitely gods don’t die for anyone, but that’s exactly what the mission was.
Mission is not primarily an activity of the church but an attribute of God. God is a missionary God.
God sent Himself, not an ambassador, not a duplicate, not a close copy; He sent Himself. Our God, the missional God, was sent to us to live with us. LIVE, not visit. Isaiah prophesied and the angel who visited Mary at the announcement of Jesus’ birth confirmed that he would be Emmanuel, “God with Us”.
Jesus can’t become “God not with Us”. He dwells with man now forever, and that continues through us, His Body. Since the founding of the Church, many have tried to make Emmanuel more and more exclusive, as if God is with us and not everyone else. No! God’s mission since the beginning of time is to avail and unveil Himself to all mankind. At times, the Church has been His greatest obstacle.
The XA staff are here because God has brought them here, but they are not students. No matter how hard they try, we cannot have the same impact and the same opportunities that you, the students, will have every day on campus. This is the incarnation part of reaching the campus that pastors will never have the upper hand on. The staff team is amazing and we were all students here at some point, but that time is long gone. Our influence on this campus will never quite be the same as it once was.
Universities have made it so easy for college students to build relationships and influence. There's low-hanging fruit EVERYWHERE you look! You are set up with roommates, suitemates, lab partners, group projects, activities on your floor in your dorm, running for student body leadership positions, student orgs, and those are just the few that we can all quickly think up. There are so many more!
John 20:21 ERV
21 Then Jesus said again, “Peace be with you. It was the Father who sent me, and I am now sending you in the same way.”
Jesus was sent and He sent us. It’s who Jesus commanded us to be. It’s how the Body was designed to live. There is church because there is mission, not vice versa. To participate in mission is to participate in the movement of God’s love toward people, since God is a fountain of sending love.
It is not the church that has a mission of salvation to fulfill in the world, it is the mission of the Son and the Spirit through the Father that includes the church.
Acts 2:42-47 ERV
42 The believers spent their time listening to the teaching of the apostles. They shared everything with each other. They ate together and prayed together. 43 Many wonders and miraculous signs were happening through the apostles, and everyone felt great respect for God. 44 All the believers stayed together and shared everything. 45 They sold their land and the things they owned. Then they divided the money and gave it to those who needed it. 46 The believers shared a common purpose, and every day they spent much of their time together in the Temple area. They also ate together in their homes. They were happy to share their food and ate with joyful hearts. 47 The believers praised God and were respected by all the people. More and more people were being saved every day, and the Lord was adding them to their group.
What a community! Jesus didn’t take days off or vacations from His disciples (and neither did the disciples take a vacation from what we can see was happening in the early church.) Jesus didn’t have another secret group of friends on the weekends or after class. He lived with and among them. He fished with them. Was Jesus a fisherman? NO. He did what they did. If you smelled their laundry, they would’ve all smelled like fish.
Being missional is all about living with intention and purpose. It should just be something we do; it should become who we are. We’ve have to resequence our DNA to match His. This is about doing more or even working harder; this about lifestyle, heartstyle, and unleashing a direct assault on “self”, “me time”, familiarity. This is about aligning ourselves to Missio Dei so well that it’s second nature, or better yet, it becomes first nature.
What’s the difference between second and first nature? Second nature are the things we learn and do now without thinking like speaking a language or tying your shoes. First nature are instinctual functions of the body like breathing, emotion, and self-preservation. The instinct of self-preservation is the reason baby turtles scurry into a raging ocean and eagles build their nests at the edge of a cliff. It doesn’t make any sense for those animals to behave in that manner. Why would a tiny turtle hurl itself into crashing waves or an eagle put the life of its fledglings at risk by making them dive off a cliff when they learn how to fly?
In the same manner, being missional is the self-preservation instinct of the Body of Christ that’s been overridden by easier methods and human recalculation. We’ve turned more to isolation than to inclusion. (By the way, self-preservation is a universal hallmark of life.) It’s time to breathe life into the Body of Christ and let it function like Christ, the Head, has intended it to function from the beginning. Check out some easy way to be missional.
8 Easy Ways to Be Missional (Without Even Trying)
1. Eat with non-Christians.
2. Walk without headphones in.
3. Be a regular.
4. Hobby with non-Christians.
5. Talk to your co-workers.
6. Be a part of other student orgs.
7. Participate in campus events.
8. Serve your neighbors.
Let’s discuss this for a second. What are the benefits of adding these to our everyday life?
Adding a missional aspect to our community will completely change everything we know about community. A year from now, you won’t even recognize this group. The DNA of the church is 50% relational and 50% missional. If you were missing 50% of your DNA, you wouldn't even exist as a human being. You would be a blob! Why do we think the church can survive without half of it's DNA?
1. When was the last time you ate a meal with a non-Christian?
2. Out of your top ten friends here on campus, how many are not in XA?
3. Do you pray regularly for your classmates/roommates/etc?
4. How much time do you spend with classmates outside of class time?
5. Do your co-workers and roommates know when your circuit is?
Missio Dei is the same mission God is including us in. It’s up to us to accept the invitation. It’s up to us to carrying out the Body’s intended first nature. We have to stop denying that Jesus came as Emmanuel to the entire world and come to the realization that we, as the Body of Christ, are now that incarnate Emmanuel to those around us. We work so hard to get our life on track and have God move through and in us, but no one out there ever sees it. People have to be able to see the active testimony of Jesus working in your life in order to be affected by it.
When Jesus was on earth, there was only one compelling interest in His heart: to fulfill His Father’s pleasure by reclaiming a lost human race. If we want to reach the world, we have to go where the world is. Jesus smelled like fish probably for most of his ministry, and we need to take that example seriously.
Let's put our foot on the gas and finish this semester and school year strong!