The basis of missional life is our new identity as sons and servants, and our calling to love God with all our heart, mind and strength, loving our neighbours as we love ourselves. Last week, we looked at how God reveals Himself to our minds: through the Scriptures, through the Son, and through the Spirit empowering His people.
We determined that when it comes to loving God with our minds, we must correctly understand Him, listen to what He says, and put what He says into practice.
Making this Practical
What does this all mean for us? There are several things we can comment on to make this practical for us as we are sent into the world:
From meaning to saying
Is it possible that we have misunderstood the proper approach to scripture? I am concerned that we work so hard to understand what it means (a good thing at one level) and then miss the primary purpose. Scripture is one of the ways that we hear the voice of God. Perhaps instead of just asking “what does this mean?” we instead need to be asking the equally—if not more—important question of the scripture which is “what is God saying to me?” Far too often we stop at using our skills to understand the meaning, and fail to get to the most important part.
Action: Come to the text and ask what God is saying to you/us.
From saying to doing
Not only do we stop at trying to understand the text, but we fail to go from “what are you saying?” to “what do I need to do to be obedient in this way?” Many of us have experienced Bible Studies that are guilty of this very issue. We work so hard to understand the meaning (not wrong in itself) but then we fail to hear the voice of God or to put what we have heard into practice.
Action: Ask what we are to do as a result of what we have heard God say, and do it. Refuse to “do” Bible Studies that are only about an understanding of the text, and do not lead to listening to the voice of God or applying what He has said.
Preaching for Formation
Preaching is a crucial aspect of what it means to be missional. But it must be a certain kind of preaching. Some value entertaining sermons. Others value sermons that give us great insight into the meaning of the text. But neither of these are sufficient to be called good preaching. Instead, we need a standard of preaching that helps those listening to get into the scriptures themselves, to learn to listen to the voice of God in the text, and then to correctly discern what it is that God is asking us to do. This may not always be seen as the most entertaining, or the most brilliant, but it will bring about the greatest formation in the life of God’s people.
Action: We must insist on preaching that helps God’s people to correctly handle the scriptures, listen for the voice of God, and become obedient to what God has asked of us.
In my next article, I will look at how “loving God with our strength” is foundational for what it means to be missional.