What does discipleship have to do with being missional?
Discipleship is about learning to love, follow, obey, and become more and more like Jesus. Jesus was missional; in fact, God’s very nature is missional. The Triune One is Missio Dei, the Sent and Sending One. The Triune One, John tells us, is love, and love is missional—always extending itself, always about the other.
Therefore, to be a disciple of the Triune One is to be missional. The Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-19) and the greatest commandments (Matt. 22:36-40) are linked. Disciples are taught to do what Jesus commands: love God and love your neighbors (Matt.19:19; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27).
When I began to understand the implications of this royal law (James 2:8) and how it is fulfilled (Rom.13:8,15:2), it stopped me in my tracks. To love God, I have to love my neighbor? In loving my neighbor, I’m loving God? Those who first heard Jesus declare this dared not ask him anything else. It changed everything.
Jesus taught that loving God is no longer reduced to lawkeeping, religious rituals, purity, or piety. It was about loving your neighbor. As we read the gospels, we see Jesus teaching and demonstrating this over and over again. According to Judaic law, to love God one would not heal on the Sabbath, eat with a tax collector, touch a leper, or talk with a woman or a Samaritan. But Jesus broke the law to do all these things and more, demonstrating that we love God and become his disciples when we love our neighbors. Many of Jesus’ parables also illustrate this game changer: the prodigal son, the lost sheep, the open banquet invitation. To love God is to love our neighbors.
Loving our neighbors is missional living. When we do life together with our neighbors, loving them just the way they are, we bear witness to the kingdom of God in our everyday ordinary lives right where we live.
After all, Jesus’ priority is love (“God so loved the world …”).
I think I’ll go have tea with my neighbor.