It has taken me since May to finally realize just this single thought. Mission is realizing that we are the in-breaking of the kingdom of God, and not just observers being convinced that it’s happening and feeling joy because of it.
I understand “post-Christian” in these times to mean that Christianity is not the only game in town. It doesn’t make good citizens, necessarily. I work with atheists, Hindus, and I’m sure plenty of other faiths each day. Yes, atheism is a faith. The old assumptions no longer apply, that everyone automatically knows what I’m talking about. When I realize I just asked my Hindu colleagues what they’re doing for Christmas – that’s me forgetting that we’re post-Christian, and falling into old, dead patterns.
In Sunday worship, we’re reminded that we are witnessing the in-breaking of the kingdom of God. It defies conventional wisdom, and stretches into a justice, equality, and peace that we otherwise cannot perceive. When we allow our imaginations to blossom, we can believe that we see it, and it becomes our reality. The kingdom of God has become real in our hearts.
But then, the big leap is to connect ourselves to that very in-breaking. To self-identify as being a part of it. Missional thinking is that self-identification, and letting it inform our actions.
It’s me reflecting on what I see and hear in my own congregation, and naming where I see us embodying self-centeredness. I may be right or wrong, but the resulting tension I feel and that drives me to question is me acting in a missional way. It’s that impelling pressure perceived by others that embodies me living out my missional calling within the body of Christ. And allowing my faith to imagine that it takes seed where it might (thinking the Parable of the Sower). As more of us become missional, we collectively push on the institution of the Church as it is, keeping in mind that we sometimes misinterpret or apply our own biases inappropriately, but still pushing nonetheless.
Much as we depend on retelling each other the Gospel, we depend on each other being missional.
To be concrete – it’s me reflecting on where I see self-centeredness. It’s me serving my congregation to offer intercessions or Sunday School classes that engage the idea of how we are the in-breaking of the kingdom of God. It’s not something “over there” just to give us hope. Beyond that, it’s us here and now. We are the in-breaking of the kingdom, and the acting required for that is our action.