“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (John 20:21)
As is no doubt affirmed by your own story, living incarnationally – in other words, becoming One Of the people to whom you are called – is absolutely central to being a missionary.[Tweet “Becoming ‘One Of’ the people to whom you are called is absolutely central to living on mission.”]
The idea of One Of can be summarized in the following way:
FOR: God’s posture towards humanity is one of pleasure – fundamentally He loves and smiles when He looks at us! He is For us. Yet He is also a holy God (represented by the halo). While He loves us so deeply, God also hates sin for the basic fact that it stands in direct opposition to His very identity and rule.
Nevertheless, for some it is genuinely good news that God actually likes humanity and His desire is to be For us and not against us.
WITH: In order to draw us closer to Him, God comes to be With us, revealing His nature and love to us in more tangible ways. The Old Testament is full of moments when He was with His people – the call of Abraham, Moses at the burning bush, Ruth when she chose the God of Naomi, Jeremiah in the pit, Daniel in the lions’ den.
But this is not enough. When God is With us, He is still holy and, to sinful humanity, too different and unattainable to follow consistently. We fail at keeping His Law and thus end up discouraged (the grumpy face!) both at our own sin and God’s otherness.
ONE OF: The crucial shift is when God becomes One Of us – the incarnation. Jesus puts on human flesh (here represented by the baseball cap), and at last our hearts can stop striving. We see what it means to belong to our heavenly Father when we look at Jesus; we see how our lives can be transformed when the Holy Spirit is allowed to lead us so closely. The frown is turned into a smile!
Furthermore, by becoming One Of us, Jesus is able to decisively deal with the impact of sin in our lives. This is not just Jesus being a great example, but it is Jesus offering a fundamental change in our relationship with the Father, as our barrier against the holiness of God (our sin) is removed through the atonement. But the key to all this is Jesus becoming One Of.
IN: Finally God can be In us – as we welcome, receive and serve Jesus. As the Holy Spirit comes to live In us, not only do we smile but we also start to take on the character and identity of God – His holiness.
This is the multiplication aspect of the Gospel: God comes to train and release us to go in His name. We then come alongside others in order to train and release them to go in the name of Jesus.
The outcome of this process is that Jesus creates a multiplying movement – by commissioning us frail mortals, who have God In us – to go and represent Him in the world.
- We begin this commission by being known as people who are For others, that we actually like other human beings, including those who are far from God!
- Then we move to being With people, finding tangible ways to serve and bless them.
- But the key shift is when we become One Of a particular group of people. They stop being ‘those people’ and start being ‘us lot’. We work out what church needs to look like to reach that specific context, to be incarnated into that time and place. The message of the Gospel remains the same, but we as missionaries do the hard work of cross-cultural translation.
- As we go, we see people become disciples of Jesus, and thus the Spirit comes to live In them, and so the multiplication effect increases.
Are you One Of?
This shift to One Of is an absolute essential if your heart is for the lost people around you. Whether they are friends, neighbors, co-workers or family, your fruitfulness in making disciples is hugely increased as you live fully amongst them. Pointing in from the outside will rarely produce disciples who can make disciples. But sharing life and living out what it means to walk with Jesus will be hugely impacting, leading to life transformation amongst those you most love and care for.
Who are you called to be One Of? What is your next step in that journey?
- To read another perspective on this topic (Daring Kids On Mission) please click here
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