Today we entered into our first yearly covenant at Missio Dei. The purpose of the covenant is to formally bind us together toward fulfilling a common mission. We have stated that mission as follows: "Missio Dei exists to point to and build for the Kingdom of God in tangible ways as we embody the life of the risen Jesus Christ." I hope to take a few posts to explain this mission statement more fully. I begin with the Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom of God was and is central to the mission of Jesus. His message was, "Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand." There are many ways we can talk about this Kingdom, but we know from Jesus' prayer that the whole thing involved God's will being done on earth as it is in heaven. Thus, the Kingdom of God can be spoken of as God's reign over His creation. It is creation at its highest and best. It is when you cannot tell the difference between heaven and earth.
When Jesus fed the hungry, calmed the storms, or healed the sick, He wasn't just performing wonders, He was putting the Kingdom of God on display. When He spoke about loving our enemies, trusting God rather than fretting, and about the last being first, He wasn't just being genius, He was laying out the new ethic of the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is about the reversing and the undoing of the present kingdoms. If it seems backwards to pray for those who curse, it's because, well, it is. If it seems foreign to consider a lustful stare adultery, it's because we have grown accustomed to a rival ethic of a rival kingdom. Before we write this Kingdom of God off as silly or impossible, we should consider what the alternatives have managed to produce: war, hunger, poverty, abuse, murder, disease. I could go on. On the other hand, what would happen if we truly loved others? What if we truly lived lives of trust and honesty? What if we truly esteemed others above ourselves? The answer: we don't know. We've never tried it. But one Man did. And He changed the world. But, as Dallas Willard points out, the way of Jesus had not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.
If we're going to get any closer to this Kingdom, then the first thing we have to do is change our thinking. Jesus' instruction was to "repent." To repent is to change our minds, to change our thinking. It is to change the way we view God, ourselves, and the world around us. We have had the broken mindsets of broken kingdoms for too long. We have believed in the failed "saviors" of power, wealth, and pleasure. Yet God is on mission in this world, if we have eyes to see it. He is reshaping the world for the goodness He intended for it. He is redeeming a humanity to live in this new Kingdom. And He has called us to join Him in this restoration project.
To be the church is to join God in His mission. To join God's mission is to work for the Kingdom of God. To enter this Kingdom of God is to repent. To repent is to believe that the world is a different place than we ever imagined it. It is to open our eyes to the God who is making all things new.