Disclaimer: If you ever see a footnote on the bottom of a post, it’s likely to become a follow up post at some point. This post originated here.
There is a giant market in Christianity in the West for all things “missional.” In fact it’s so large, we’ve started naming things missional that aren’t. And much of the missional conversation has begun to center around doing good works for our neighbor–caring for the sick, empowering the poor, advocating for those at the margins.
All of this must include sharing the gospel. The missional movement will go completely off track if it abandons the story of Jesus as the way to the Father and the only answer for the human condition. In fact, while good works are important and cannot be ignored, sharing the good news must take priority in our lives. I say this as someone who has taken in people without homes and cared for the fatherless. Only the Gospel of Jesus ultimately saves people.
Our model for all of this should be Jesus Himself. He sets the terms and conditions for how Christianity should be lived out and demonstrated on the Earth. We should be surprised, then, to find that much of the missional movement not participating in the power of the Holy Spirit and advocating for a display of His power, because Jesus regularly relied on the Holy Spirit to sustain His mission.
Hear me on this: I’m sure Jesus would welcome us caring for the poor. I’m sure Jesus would encourage us for extending love to those who seem outside of the social norm. I’m sure Jesus would encourage us to care for the sick. I just see Him do it in the Gospels in a radically different manner than the missional church in the West.
A few examples of this:
After being tempted in the wilderness for 40 days by the devil, Jesus returns to Nazareth and preaches in a synagogue. He teaches from Isaiah 62, proclaiming His intent to bring good news to the poor, proclaim release to captives, open the eyes of the blind, and loose the oppressed. After being chased out of the hometown for not doing many miracles, he moves on to Capernaum where He sets a captive free by casting a demon out of a demonized man (Luke 4:14-37). There aren’t many in the missional movement I hear practicing freeing people in this way.
Jesus frequently emphasized caring for the sick. But we don’t see Jesus establishing hospitals*. What we do see is Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14-17), a paralyzed man (Mark 2:1-12), and a man born blind (John 9:1-6). These are just some of many healing miracles that were the method Jesus used to “care for the sick,” (John 21:25). I hear many advocating for better healthcare in the missional movement, but very few people praying for healing.
Jesus also did a number of other miracles for the benefit of others. He fed those without food. He did this twice through miracles of multiplication (Matthew 14:13-21, Matthew 15:32-39). This is rarely how I hear missional people speak of feeding the hungry. And I hear very few answers from the missional crowd about how to deal with demonized men who live as outcasts that no one knows how to deal with. But Jesus ends both the oppression and the isolation by rebuking the demonic presence and freeing the man (Mark 5:1-20).
Jesus did all of these signs as proof that He was truly the embodiment of God’s Kingdom (John 2:23, John 6:2, John 15:24). And He did these miracles, not because He was God incarnate, but because He relied on the power of the Holy Spirit (see perhaps my favorite missional verses of all time, Phillipians 2:6-8, and John 5:19 & Matthew 12:28).
Not only did Jesus rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to be on mission Himself, He told us to do the same. He said that those who believed in Him would do not only the works He did, but greater works (John 14:12). And he commanded the apostles not to begin attempting the mission until the Holy Spirit came and gave them power to do the mission, too (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5). Once this happened, they embarked on a very similar story as Jesus did.
My point in bringing all this up is that we often try to carry out the commands of Jesus in the power of the flesh. And while I’m sure there are true and real times Jesus has asked us to bandage a wound, be a friend to the lonely, and be an advocate for the poor, I want us to remember that the Jesus of the Bible had a radical, powerful trust in the Holy Spirit to deal with the true ills of society, not just manage the side affects. He brought the resources of Heaven to bare on the problems of Earth, not just the efforts of men.
The only mission we are called to is the one Jesus started. We aren’t to bring just our resources to bear on the world’s problems. We’re to draw on the Holy Spirit to truly heal the evil around us. If we want to engage in the true mission of Jesus, I think we need that same radical, powerful trust in the Holy Spirit Jesus had.
But the choice is ours: Will we do mission our way, or Jesus’?
*This is not a critique on hospitals nor me advocating not going to doctors. It’s purely a statement of fact.
Welcome to post number 199 here on Pursuing Glory. You may have noticed that I haven’t blogged here recently, mostly because I’ve been wanting to do something significant for the 200th post. Normally, I’m not a big numbers guy, so I wouldn’t make a big deal over the 200th post, but for whatever reason, reaching that post number has got me thinking about the direction of the blog, who comes and reads what’s here, and what God intends to do through this blog. All of this is motivated me to take a look at my top posts and ask this question: Why do people come and read this blog.
Looking at the stats is a little telling. The number one post here on the blog is "A Summary of the Lakeland Revival." Undoubtedly, this blog post came out during the final months of the Lakeland Revival when controversy was beginning to swirl and so many came looking for information about what had happened. But I also think it speaks of the desire in the body of Christ to truly experience the power of Christ not only in our own lives but in the lives of the lost and dying. This post is significant because you come here believing God desires to pour out his Spirit in a dramatic way that awakens the nations.
The next most popular blog (which is really shocking to me) is called "Mark Driscoll Kicks Terry Virgo’s Butt." This blog recaps Mark Driscoll’s visit to New Frontiers and points you to the blog posts of both Mark and Terry. I’ve been totally shocked by how many times this page has been viewed. What is even more shocking to me is the fact that about half the traffic comes looking for information on Driscoll and half comes looking for information on Virgo. What’s driving those hits, I believe, is a sincere desire to experience and understand true apostolic leadership. Both of these men represent significant movements of believers around the world struggling for the truth of the Gospel to be presented to a lost and dying world. I believe some of you come because you’re hungry for the kind of Christianity where apostolic leadership is welcomed and encouraged.
"While We Slept" and "Wolfgang Opens A Webshop" are two other high ranking posts that feature Mercy and Wolfgang Simson. The content of these posts announce Mercy and Wolf each opening up a presence on the internet. I believe that these posts are visited frequently for the same reason that "Mark Driscoll Kicks Terry Virgo’s Butt" gets traffic. However, Mercy and Wolf represent something different as well. Mercy definitely has a prophetic anointing resting on her life. Wolfgang is definitely an apostolic leader in the body of Christ. But both of them also represent the growing house church movement that is developing all over the world. I’ve never discussed the house church movement in a very structured way but this blog definitely has become a place to discuss the shift going on in many peoples’ hearts to a more relational form of Christianity that meets in homes. I believe some of you come here to catch a glimpse of this transition that is taking place across the world.
Another post that gets some pretty significant attention on this blog always seems to be "Red Moon Rising Quote #2." This blog is a quote that came straight from the book "Red Moon Rising," which chronicles the birth of a prayer movement in Europe that challenges young adults to live lives of extravagant devotion to Jesus in the context of prayer and service. I know people come to this post because of the quote, but I believe that throughout the body of Christ there is a hunger to live lives of deep prayer and consecration to Jesus. I believe you come to the blog because you know that the move of God that is coming will be supported by a revolution in prayer, both individually and corporately.
Finally, Stuff I’m Reading has always been a significant page on this blog. This blog is significant in a way that is different from all the other posts. This page is all about me and what material God is using to grow and mature me. And in a way, I think this page is popular for the same reason that posts like "I Win (And Proof That I’m Not A Bad Sport)" and "Because She’s My Valentine" remain popular on the blog. If I can say this without being self-centered, I think a lot of you come here to stay caught up with me. This to a large degree was and is still the purpose of the blog. As I’ve slowly moved over to Facebook and Twitter, a lot of that personal "what are you doing" sort of content has slipped out of the posts here. However, in my attempt to focus in more on the blog again, look to see more of this as we go on. I’ll explain that later.
So this blog has a lot of people showing up for different reasons. But I believe that God is going to raise up a move of the Holy Spirit marked by radical signs and wonders, lead by seasoned apostolic men, who are extending the Kingdom through prayer, evangelism, and house church planting. I call it “this thing,” and if you’re interested in seeing where it goes, stick around. We’re in for a fun ride.