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The Invitation: Joining Jesus on His Mission

 
 
Jesus is on a mission.
He is on a grand adventure to redeem and restore human lives to the kingdom of his Father. This is nothing new. Ever since he broke out of the tomb on Easter Sunday, Jesus has been on the loose, pursuing his redemptive mission, messing with people, ripening people, preparing people to be drawn back to the Father he loves. It’s what he does.
 
And he’s on the move in your neighborhood, too. A “neighborhood” is defined as any network of relationships (or potential relationships) to which we have regular access. We may not know the people yet or know them well, but for a variety of reasons these people are regularly within our reach.
 
Obviously the “neighborhoods” where we live qualify, and so do the “neighborhoods” of our workplaces and schools. We are regularly within reach of the same people. But there are many other “neighborhoods” in which we regularly find ourselves. For instance, some of us have access to recreation leagues, yoga classes or craft beer clubs. Some of us are band parents, soccer moms or routinely wait with other dads as our daughters finish up dance classes. Some of us volunteer with social service agencies. Some of us are Chamber members or Rotary Club members. Some of us are at country clubs, community centers or the Y. All of these are examples of “neighborhoods” in which we may find ourselves. Jesus is on the loose in all of them.
 
Jesus is on a mission to redeem and restore all people. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son ” (John 3:16). God sent his Son for the world. His goal is not to save some and leave others out. Paul underscores this in
1 Timothy 2:4 when he says that God our Savior wants all people to be saved. Will everyone respond? Will everyone believe God? No. But that does not change the goal and desire of God in sending his Son.
So wherever you go, whether to the ends of the earth or just to work, if there are people there, you can be sure Jesus is up to something redemptive. His purpose is to redeem. His goal is full restoration. This is what Jesus does. There is, of course, much mystery in how Jesus works out his plan in each person’s life. Some people are resisting, some are ignoring, some are oblivious, and some are almost ready. But Jesus is in the redemptive process of uniquely preparing each of them to receive what the Father would freely give them: forgiveness of sins and a new life with him forever.
That is Jesus’ mission. And he invites us to join him. This is an important change in mindset for most U.S. church members: Jesus is inviting me to join him on his mission. He does not give me a mission to do FOR him. Jesus is on a mission and he invites me to come WITH him. The first time I realized Jesus was inviting me to come WITH him and not go FOR him was a great relief. If I go FOR Jesus, I am doing the work and seeing the results of what I can accomplish. When I go WITH Jesus, he is doing the work and I am seeing the results of what Jesus can accomplish. One is hard the other is fun. One is exhausting the other is energizing. One causes me to worry (“Did I do everything correctly?”) the other causes me to be at peace
 
(“Let’s see what Jesus does next.”). One tempts me to force things with people the other invites me to keep loving people. Jesus wasn’t sending me out to do his work FOR him, he was inviting me to come WITH him and join the work he was already doing. Our job is to watch for, recognize and then respond to the work Jesus is already doing in the lives of people around us and JOIN him.
This is our new missional mindset. We can do this.