I’m in the middle of a series exploring the language of ‘calling’. You can read from the start HERE.
In the last post I made the controversial suggestion that when God calls all his people into mission, he calls us to ‘Go’ — ultimately to the ends of the earth. But I guess this might leave you with a few questions. Questions like:
- What could this possibly mean in practice? Should we all pack our bags and get on planes bound for mission ‘over there’? What then are we to make of the often-sounded caution that you can’t expect to ‘flick the mission switch’ when you get on the plane?
- How does this fit with the insight of contemporary missiologists that mission today is “from everywhere to everywhere”? I.e., that it’s no longer merely a matter of ‘us’ in the materially rich, sophisticated, enlightened West sending people to bring light to the poor, backward, and primitive?
- Equally, how does it fit with he observation — increasingly common since the likes of Lesslie Newbigin began making it — that the secular West now needs ‘re-evangelising’? I.e. that mission has come to us? (And all the associated ‘missional church’ stuff?)
Rather than tackling these questions head on, I want to come at them sideways and make two suggestions.
First, a theoretical suggestion. When God calls us to ‘Go’ to the ends of the earth, he’s summoning us to reject what some theorists call a ‘sedentary metaphysic’. A sedentary metaphysic is in play whenever our very real physical, geographical limitations as creatures become an excuse to valorise things like staying put, being rooted or grounded, and settling down (something that often seems to be equated with ‘growing up’).
How easy it is to find it too risky to listen to Jesus’ call to ‘Go’ — across the room, across a cultural barrier, or across the world — under cover of being ‘tied down’ with our comfortable burdens! I seem to recall Jesus had stern words for those who wanted to follow him but wouldn’t let that reshape their comforts and obligations.
It may suit us to turn the volume down on God’s call to ‘Go’. But it does no honour to the one who calls us (who was also the one who not only sent but went — or came, depending on your perspective).
As for my more practical suggestion, I’m sure there have been hints of it in what I’ve already said. But I think the call to ‘Go’ means taking risks and stepping out of our comfort zones — starting … wherever you are!
We’re called to ‘Go’ into every level of society as well as every corner of the earth. But that’s got to start with us crossing that barrier of awkwardness to talk with the neighbour whose name we never caught. Or that internal barrier preventing us from listening to that person who’s hard to understand (because they don’t speak the language, don’t approach the world like I do, or don’t smell like something I’m comfortable with).
Our God calls us to ‘Go’ to the ends of the earth. Let’s make a start instead of twisting it into an invitation to stay put…