As I studied the New Testament church in the book of Acts many years ago, I had a vision. Not anything mystical. Not even anything different from what I was reading, I suppose. But a vision nonetheless. As clear as if I was actually living it, I saw in my mind’s eye THE CHURCH in all her glory. Occasionally the Holy Spirit shows me that vision again, often when I most need refreshing.
It was during a silent retreat last month as I was meditating on Psalm 71. Verse 5 had caught my attention…
For you have been my hope, O Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth.
My mind was playing its version of the Association Game, revisiting the memories of my youth when I was first introduced to Jesus Christ. I was thinking of the little church I attended, remembering different faces and connecting them to the roles they filled in our small community and–BAM!–there was the vision again.
It is a joyful church. Not that everyone is happy all the time, but everyone is joyful because they see clearly that they are part of a larger mission…the misseo Dei. Each one has something valuable to contribute for the good of the whole, for the fulfillment of God’s purpose. Those with apostolic gifting are commissioned to go out and tell the Good News of Jesus Christ; those with gifts more appropriate to the local church and community stay home and use them to “keep the home fires burning,” so to speak. When the traveling missioners come home, everyone gathers around to share their stories of what God has been doing both near and far, praising him and giving thanks. There is a sweet rhythm to this life within community.
I realize that this sounds utopian, more fairy tale than anything found in reality. But this vision is what calls to me, day in and day out. Building a church where everyone has a part to play–all the roles being of equal value for the good of the whole–and the mission of God being lived out and fulfilled right in front of us… this is my life purpose. This is what God created and called and gifted me to do. I am as certain of this as I am of my own name.
What is your role in the misseo Dei? Are you certain of it? Are you living it? If you aren’t sure, engage in some serious solitude–however long it takes until you hear the voice of God. It’s critical to the success of your ministry that you know–without a doubt–the person God has created you to be and how he has shaped you to serve.
If you know your role and are living it, praise God! Now go help someone else to do the same. Have a conversation with someone you know who is struggling to find their place in God’s mission. Explore with them their passions, their abilities, and their experiences. Help them identify their personal preferences and their spiritual gifts. Keep after it until they connect with God’s call and are living it out in community. If we keep doing this, we might just find the vision will become the reality.