Monday, January 30, 2012

Discipleship as Mission

From the beginning of the Christ following movement, mission has been central. Matthew and Mark both record Jesus calling fishermen to become fishers for women and men. The call to follow Jesus is a call to mission because Jesus’ life focused on the mission of God.

All of the Gospels portray disciples as persons who carry the good news about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection to others. As the disciples follow Jesus, he does his work of shaping them into persons who can “fish for people.” The disciples’ time with Jesus is not merely preparatory or academic work but real world training. Jesus molds his disciples by modeling mission. It is also worth noting that he deploys his disciples immediately into missional activity. This begins with accompanying Jesus and learning from him, but it quickly becomes deployment as a means of extending Jesus’ reach. In Matthew 9:35–11:1 (cf. Luke 9:1-6 and 10:1-12) , Jesus sends out his disciples on mission. In this text, Jesus authorizes his disciples to proclaim the Gospel in word and deed just as Jesus himself had done. This is the map for all future disciples to follow. Mission is not the work of religious professionals; it is the work of all followers of Jesus. Reading the Gospels missionally involves seeing them as blueprints for contemporary communities of faith to follow. The energy of mission implicit and explicit in the Gospels shapes God’s people into being a missional community that reflects and embodies God’s good news for others. Of course, the Matthean and Lukan accounts end with commissions for world transforming mission (Matt 28:16-20, Luke 24:44-49, Acts 1:8). But it is vital to recognize that mission is not merely a part of discipleship but that the Gospels themselves are manuals for what a missional discipleship truly looks like.

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