Intimacy and Mission

Last Friday I had the opportunity to do a guest post for the Campus Renewal Ministry blog. I wanted to repost it here too. Enjoy!

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In Mark 3:14 we are given two reasons why Jesus calls disciples:

And He appointed twelve (whom He also named apostles) so that they might be with Him and He might send them out to preach.

Embedded in this verse are two overarching concepts that should govern our understanding of our Christian life and service:

  1. That they might be with Him = intimacy.
  2. That He might send them out to preach = mission.

Principle

One principle we can draw from these two aspects is that all outward activities should be derived from and flow out of our inward reality.

As a college-age Christian, there are endless opportunities for getting involved on campus and living out our faith. However, keeping these two aspects of our Christian calling in creative tension is important. If we don’t maintain this balance or if we neglect their God-inspired order, we are setting up ourselves for problems. We may inadvertently embrace one of these aspects at the expense of the other. Certainly, each member of the Body has their special gift and character, but if we are to be disciples of Jesus we can’t selectively answer His calling.

One may, therefore, perceive the church as an ellipse with two foci. In and around the first it acknowledges and enjoys the source of its life; this is where worship and prayer are emphasized. From and through the second focus the church engages and challenges the world. This is a forth-going and self-spending focus, where service, mission and evangelism are stressed. Neither focus should ever be at the expense of the other; rather they stand in each other’s service. The church’s identity sustains its relevance and involvement.

–David J Bosch, Transforming Mission, p. 385

Pattern

Jesus Himself set up this pattern in His earthly ministry. He often withdrew from the crowds, even when needs were pressing or His presence was sought. He intentionally spent time with the Father in prayer to care for His will and desire. If this was His case, how much more should it be ours?

But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray. –Luke 5:15-16

Problem

One wrong concept is that service leads to intimacy. In fact, the reverse is true. Jesus Himself addressed this potential problem in the letter to Ephesus in Revelation 2. The church in Ephesus had many works but they had left the vital source of those works- love.

I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. –Rev. 2:2-4

Jesus established the same order with Peter in John 21.

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these? He said to him, Yes, Lord; you know that I love you. He said to him, Feed my lambs. –John 21:15

Love leads to lambs. If we have love for Jesus (intimacy), He will lead us to feed those around us (mission).

Conclusion

In our missional communities we gather in intimacy to love God, to enjoy Christ, to be filled with the Spirit, and to be inspired with His purpose. Then we scatter to serve God and those around us with the word of God and the witness of love.

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