Godspeed: Making Christ's Mission Your Ownby Britt Merrick
Have you ever felt like there’s a higher calling for your life? Something more than the mundane weekly routine of work, eat, sleep, play, and church? In Godspeed, Britt Merrick challenges us to step out of our little, self-centered lives and step into God’s grand mission—His plan to restore, redeem, and renew the world. Your heart has been aching for something more, and this is it. Join His mission and change the world.
- David C Cook
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By Britt Merrick
David C. CookCopyright © 2012 Britt Merrick
All right reserved.
It's Not about People
There is no participation in Christ without participation in His mission to the world. International Missionary Council
Not too long ago I had the most amazing experience with Jesus. Not "amazing" in the sense of the latte you had the other day, but actually amazing.
Our Reality church team had started a new campus in Santa Barbara, California. We poured months of prayer, labor, and resources into the launch. It was difficult work that faced lots of spiritual warfare, with various struggles and hurdles to overcome. As the months marched toward the launch date, I began to doubt whether or not we were doing the right thing. I thought Christ had called us to this, but the process had been so draining and difficult that it left my mind reeling. Had I led us wrong? Was this more about my own mission than Christ's mission? Did I lead our church into something that had more to do with my ego than God's glory?
I was starting to panic inside.
Finally the launch date arrived, and we gathered everyone for our first service at the new campus. After many months of prayer, planning, and hard work, we opened the doors, and the place absolutely packed out. But that didn't mean anything to me; drawing a crowd means very little in the scheme of things. As the service began and I got ready to take the platform to preach, I was still questioning the whole thing in my mind, and honestly, I was afraid.
Then it happened.
I walked on stage, and Jesus was there. Not physically. But in some way that I can't fully describe to you now, Jesus was just there. When I got to the pulpit, He put His arm around me and whispered in my ear, "I've been waiting for you. You are exactly where you are supposed to be. Let's do this together."
And at that moment I knew everything would be okay.
JESUS AND THE GREAT COMMISSION
Somber trepidation filled the room. Men spoke in hushed tones behind the bolted door, fearful of the powerful Jewish leaders who were surely hunting them by now.
Jesus was dead. The emptiness in the air felt oppressive, palpable.
Then suddenly something changed.
A man stood among them.
Audible gasps sounded across the room. Disciples collapsed to the floor as their knees gave way; others staggered back in shock.
"Peace be with you!" Jesus, Immanuel, said with a smile.
Nothing moved; no one could breathe.
Jesus stepped closer to His motionless followers and held out His hands. Wide-eyed, they drew near, and He showed them the wound in His side.
Realization and joy hit at once, and the room erupted into celebration. Jesus was alive! Their Lord and their God stood among them.
"Peace be with you!" Jesus said again. The group buzzed with excitement.
Jesus stepped back and waited for the disciples to calm down. They turned their eyes on Him, and then, with all authority, He said the words that would direct the course of His church from that point forward throughout history: "As the Father has sent Me, I also send you."
LOSING THE S
Like many Christians, you've probably been on a missions trip before or at least supported one in some way. If so, you know that everything about a missions trip is intentional: where you go, when you go, those with whom you go, and those to whom you go. A bad missions trip isn't one where something goes wrong—you know, like getting sick, needing to separate amorous youth group members, losing the team's luggage, or having twenty heads infected with lice. It turns out that great ministry and new relationships are often cultivated in the worst of scenarios. A bad missions trip is one where nothing is planned or intentional.
Intentionality is the reason why a missions trip to Fiji is different than a Fijian vacation. It's the reason why your friends and family contribute financial support for the former but (unless you're incredibly lucky) probably won't for the latter. If nothing on a trip is intentionally missional, then it's just another trip.
I've come to dislike the term missions. Because of the misunderstanding of this word and concept, we've begun believing that "missions" is something done by other Christians "over there." In doing church-as-usual, we've lost the biblical notion that each of us has been sent to the world, on mission, within our immediate contexts.
This book, therefore, is not about "missions."
It's about mission.
It's about the mission of Christ to the world and our specific place within that mandate. Your place in it. We're going to drop the s permanently. It's time to get on a new trip.
Mission is the single reason why your life's purpose is different from most of the rest of the world. Christians are unique, in part, because of their intentional participation in the mission of Jesus Christ. You are unique because of this call. The American church has believed that if we simply send money to other Christians overseas, then they will fulfill our call to mission for us. We've believed that if we spend a week of the summer performing evangelistic mime skits on the streets of Mexico City, then we can check "missions" off our yearly to-do lists.
The presupposition of this book is that we've had it wrong all this time.
A Christian's entire life is the mission trip.
A SENT PEOPLE
In the same way the Father sent the Son, Jesus sends us, the church, on mission. Through the Great Commission, He invites us into a purpose that is bigger than ourselves. We have the opportunity to exist for something greater than our own dramas, our own wants, our own needs, and our own dreams. This fact should blow our minds: that with all our flimsy, fleshly, and cheesy humanity, the Creator would still ask us to share in what is most important to Him.
Being on mission is the paradigm shift of a lifetime. The greatest adventure is to hear the invitation and respond. The greatest tragedy is to ignore our calling and go on living life as usual.
The goal of this book is to see every Christian liberated to live on mission and in motion for the glory of God and to help the church learn to live like Jesus did: with missional intentionality.
Don't miss this! It's the chance of a lifetime—the chance of eternity, actually.
Christ was on a mission: the Father sent Him for the glory of God and for the salvation of humanity. And then Jesus said, "As the Father has sent Me, I also send you."
Don't hear "I also send you" as Jesus saying you need to go somewhere else. Hear it as Jesus telling you that you have already been sent to where you are right now. Like it or not, you are a sent person.
In the same way the Father sent Jesus, He sends us to the world, empowered by the Holy Spirit for His mission. Understanding this mandate for mission is crucial to our ability to live out our calling as Christians.
To live life at Godspeed.
Before we examine what this is and how we do it, let's begin with the Who and the why, the reason and the purpose, behind our mission. I can't think of any better place to start.
THE END GOAL
Mission begins, and ends, with God.
He is the inventor, initiator, owner, author, finisher, and the goal of mission. All ministry is God's ministry, and all mission is God's mission.
Realigning our lives to work alongside Christ begins by forming a theocentric understanding of mission. Theo means "God"; therefore, we're talking about a God-centered understanding of what mission looks like. So when we think about life on mission, there is a single foundational element that must always be in place. This foundation requires that we center on the purposes of God, the heart of God, the revelation of God, the gospel of God, and the triune person of God.
Numerous ideologies compete for this centricity, this foundational place in our worldview. How many Christian leaders operate from an ecclesiocentric, or church-centered, understanding of mission? How many Christians push cosmocentric, or world-centered, objectives? Much of mainstream Christian culture follows an anthropocentric, or human-centered, understanding of mission.
Yes, God calls us to relieve suffering and bring about justice—absolutely. But God and His glory must be the driving force for this mission, not the plight of humanity.
One of the opening lines from John Piper's famous book Let the Nations Be Glad! is "Mission exists because worship doesn't." The goal of all Christian activity is to glorify God; therefore, we are on mission to the places in the world where worship isn't happening.
The goal of all mission is the glory of God, first because God is worthy of all glory and also because humanity is healed in worshipping God. Every evil we see in the world today is rooted in idolatry that stands in disobedience to the first commandment, "You shall have no other gods before Me," and fails to heed Jesus' greatest command to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength."
When we exalt anything or anyone to a functional place in our lives higher than God, the result is destruction and a broken world. But when Christ is in His rightful place upon the throne, humanity is healed.
BLESSED TO BE
To have a biblical understanding of mission is to realize that the Bible is a book about God—not about us.
This might come as a shock if you've been reading your Bible through me-colored glasses: I'm messed up ... I need something ... I'm broken ... I'm dissatisfied. Something is wrong. Where's the answer? What's that verse again?
In truth, the Bible is the story of God's mission in the world as it unfolds throughout human history. Christianity gets fun when we understand our salvation through the perspective of who God is and what He's doing in the world! The Bible comes alive when we read it missiologically, with a lens that looks for the mission of God.
When we see the grand story of God's mission to redeem, restore, and heal humanity, it's a massive paradigm shift. We realize that life is not about us or what we want to do—and that's a relief, because I'm already sick of myself. Life is about God and His glory and what He is doing. The more we get caught up in that reality, the more we are free to be who God is calling us to be.
The question "What should I do?" becomes "What is God doing?"
When we view Scripture with an eye toward what God has done, is doing, and will do, all questions of "What should I do now?" get answered.
Throughout history God has worked through people rather than independent of people. This is one thing that the metanarrative of the Bible reveals. One of the first and most profound places we see this truth in Scripture is in Genesis 12. It is the functional beginning of the mission of God in human history, given through the Abrahamic covenant:
Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father's house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed."
Revealed here is another foundational piece of the bedrock of our involvement in God's mission: God blesses us to bless others.
God called Abraham, He sent Abraham, and He blessed Abraham. God chose to bless all nations through Abraham. The process is the same for the Christian: God called us, He sent us, and He blesses us to bless others. Not because we are awesome, but because He is awesome.
The last thing we want to do then, by self-absorption or self-centeredness, is to become a clog in that flow. It is our human and cultural tendency to want God to bless us, just for us. But the truth is that God blesses us so that we will do something with that blessing. So that we might bless others. He blessed Abraham and said, "So you shall be a blessing ... and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed."
When we understand this truth, we live differently.
The last few years have been the most difficult season of my life. Ironically they have also been the most blessed.
It began one Monday morning when my wife and I got an urgent call from our five-year-old daughter's elementary school. There had been an accident, and she was rushed to the hospital where a CAT scan revealed that her tiny body contained a Wilms' tumor, a rare form of kidney cancer. The tumor was the size of a Nerf football, and it was hemorrhaging cancerous cells into her body. There began our family's long, tumultuous battle with cancer.
In those first weeks our church family flooded us with support. People we didn't know, from all over the world, began sending us gifts and cards and little presents for our daughter, Daisy Love. Today I can safely say she has more stuffed animals than can fit in her room.
Some people, who no doubt are parents, were so savvy and thoughtful that they anticipated what Daisy's eight-year-old brother, Isaiah, might be going through. He watched all this happen to his little sister and witnessed the massive outpouring of attention and gifts heaped on her. Surely he was dealing with fear, insecurity, and jealousy, as any of us would. So every once in a while, he would get a gift in the mail too.
The week I began teaching a series on mission at our church, someone sent my son a gift card for California Pizza Kitchen: twenty-five bucks. What a cool thing to send to an eight-year-old! When we explained to him how it worked, his immediate reaction was "Oh! I can take my Auntie Heidi and Uncle Johnny out to lunch with this card. It's her birthday this week!" Isaiah made the plans and got some money for a tip, and that week he took his aunt and uncle out to CPK and spent the entire card on them.
Afterward it hit me: my eight-year-old gets what so few of us in the church understand.
God blessed him to be a blessing.
This simple principle is the foundation of how God works through humanity. The work is God's work and the blessing is God's blessing, but He delivers His blessings through you and me.
THE WHOS AND THE WHAT
We're going to get a little theological here, but bear with me. I promise we'll get into judging others and adultery and demons later on.
Mission is not primarily an activity of the church; rather mission is an attribute of God. Let me explain.
To be a Christian is to be a Trinitarian. It's a weird word that sounds like a galaxy from Star Wars. But it explains the mystery of the essence, the intrinsic nature, of God.
We believe that God is one, as it says in Deuteronomy: "Sh'ma Yis'ra'eil Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad." Or in English, "Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!" God is one, or "echad," as it's called in Hebrew. Yet while God is one, He is also three.
Jesus expressly revealed the Trinitarian nature of God in the Gospels. "I and the Father are one," He said, and commanded His church to baptize "in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit." It's one name but three distinct persons. This plurality—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—exists in a unity of being: three Whos and one What.
Can you wrap your mind around that? I can't. The Trinity is a mystery because our finite minds cannot comprehend the infinite nature of God.
I remember an old G. K. Chesterton quote that went something like "If God were simple enough for me to understand, He wouldn't be great enough to meet my needs nor worthy of my worship." We must beware any concept of God we can fully understand, for that is no god at all.
The triune nature of God is a mystery, but it's not a contradiction. The teaching is made clear throughout Scripture, even though we can't fully understand it. Most Christians will leave Trinitarian doctrine here—as a mystery—and move on. But there is more.
In His very nature, God is a missionary God. We begin to comprehend this when we look at the relational life of the Trinity.
Before anything else existed, God was. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, He has always existed in community. "God is love," we read in 1 John 4:8, and such love must have an object, an action, and an opportunity. It is the very nature of love to be others-centered. The dynamic love of the Godhead flows outward toward humanity, and it broke into time and space at the moment of the incarnation. Mission is the love of God moving for God's glory; Jesus is the love of God manifest in human history. Therefore, because God is love, God is always on mission.
It's a lot of theology, but track with me.
When we are saved, we enter into life with the triune God. We "become partakers of the divine nature," reads 2 Peter 1:4. As Christians, we understand our salvation as "Christ in us"—what Colossians calls "the hope of glory." Meanwhile, the New Testament refers to us as "those who are in Christ," and in John 17, Jesus prayed that as the Father is in Him and He is in the Father, so we would be in Them.
Excerpted from Godspeed by Britt Merrick Copyright © 2012 by Britt Merrick. Excerpted by permission of David C. Cook. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Good book to read wether you are a christian or not.
This is a well written book. I appreciate that it is easy to read and understand. The author gets to the point without fancy words to belittle you!! He lets you know the mission we were all put here to do for our Lord!!
Britt Merrick is one of the finest Christian writers of our time. This book is meaningful no matter where you are in your walk.