Could joining God’s mission begin with recognizing God already at work?
The other day I was out gardening and was startled by the unexpected movement of a jackrabbit on the lawn. It had clearly been there watching me since I had ventured outside, but I was totally unaware of its presence. Perhaps you also have had the experience of suddenly realizing that something was there all along. What if, amid the crises and chaos of our post-modern, post-Christian world, something—the presence and activity of God—has been there all along? Could paying attention to God in our midst (again for the first time)—be it right next door, in our lives, our communities, and our world—help us discern how to participate in God’s mission more fully?
Many missional thinkers affirm that this is exactly where we need to start. That it’s about deferring to God’s agency first and not our own. That in the midst of what has been called “The Great Unraveling” there is an opportunity for God’s people to turn aside and see the “burning bush” we might have walked by a hundred times before and never noticed (Ex. 3:3-5). Perhaps if we have the courage to step outside our comfort zones, like Peter with Cornelius (Acts 9-10) and Paul and Luke with the women at the river (Acts 16), we will discover God at work in unexpected people and places—in the subversive, small, and seed-like ways of God’s kingdom.
“God’s kingdom has come near” was the good news that Jesus embodied, taught in Word and deed, and died to secure for all time and all people. Yet it turns out that God’s kingdom is quite different from how we have often framed or packaged it—and quite contrary to our own “kingdoms.”
God’s kingdom, for example, is not about the love of law, but about the law of love. Waking up to this contrary, counterintuitive kingdom-come-near is not only an invitation, but our calling and mission. The journey begins as we begin to discern God at work—out ahead of us, here and now, doing a new thing on the way to the redemption of all things—and join in!