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In Lesley's Blog a couple of weeks ago, she expressed exasperation people who talked about Mission - "I will roll my eyes if you say you are passionate about mission - what does that mean?"
As someone who is passionate about mission (whatever it is!) I felt a little stung by this constructive criticism, and have taken the challenge. I have been musing ever since as to how I would define mission in the Church.
This is, of course no mean feat! I remember back to the 1990's when a 'Decade of Evangelism' began in the Church of England. The diocese I was living in neatly side-stepped the challenge of having to actually 'do' any evangelism for the first 4 years of the decade by trying to find a definition of evangelism which most churches in the diocese could sign up to!
So if that is how difficult it is for a relatively straightforward word like evangelism, I must be completely mad to attempt to define 'mission'. Having thought about it over the last few weeks, however, I am now ready to put my definition out into the ether in the hope that it doesn't utterly crash and burn!
So, here goes ...
Is that it, I hear echoing across the web? Surely it can't be that simple? So let me explain...
Crossing a boundary can be:
- a physical boundary like a national border, as Missionaries have done for hundreds of years, but it can also be ...
- an economic boundary like taking the time to talk with the homeless man in the street who you normally walk straight past
- a social boundary like the one we cross when we talk about God to our family or friends
- a personal boundary like the one we cross when we spend time alongside a person we don't understand
- even perhaps a faith boundary when we choose act beyond our comfort zones, trusting that God will give us what we need to be there.
- It might be giving money to a charity to help others beyond our reach; it might be that simple act of kindness to someone very different to us.
- It may involve words; it may not; it may involve more listening that speaking; it may mean setting aside our ideas to allow others to give us theirs.
- It may involve us 'giving a reason for the hope we have within us' (1 Peter 3:15); it may be talking about the love of Jesus; it may mean us allowing someone else to show us God's love.
But if our faith draws us into that place, that action, or that situation where we have crossed a boundary, we have engaged in mission, and mission changes the world. It breaks down the barriers which separate us from our fellow human beings. When done in humility, it builds our humanity, our capacity to include others and to be included by them.
Most of all, of course, it is what Jesus did for us, and with us - and as a Christian, it is His example which I want to follow more than any other.
My song for this week is from one of my favourite Christian band "Superchick", and it is their song "Cross the Line"
Its message is to reject the status quo, the comfort of what we know; to step over the line into an attitude of mind that says the world can change, and we can be a part of changing it! And as we cross the line, as we take risks driven on by our faith, we take hold of life in all its fullness...
In their words, "Revolutions start when someone crosses the line!"
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