This blog post is Part 2 in a 14-part blog series on discovering and living your mission. (If you missed Part 1, you can find it here.) Finding and living out our mission isn’t just something we do because it makes our lives more meaningful—it is deeply important to the heart of God. In fact, we are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), so it can be helpful to explore how God and Jesus worked out mission in their own life.
God and Mission
First, let’s take a look at God and his mission. I think it is important to note that, from the beginning, God was active and working in creating the world. God wasn’t sitting around watching television. It was good for God to be active and work, just as it is good for us to be active and work.
Also, God worked in community. In the Christian faith, we believe in something called the Trinity, which basically means that God has three parts—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Theologians think this is why, for example, in Genesis 1, God refers to himself in the plural: “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds of the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground” (Genesis 1: 26). In the same way, it is often helpful for us to work out our mission in community with other like-minded folks.
Finally, God had balance in his work. There was a rhythm to God’s work. He worked six days, and rested on the seventh day. “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done” (Genesis 2:2-3). In the same way, we need balance between work and rest. We can’t work all the time. We need time and space to recharge. It’s a good habit to take at least one day off per week.
In addition to being central to the person of God, work and mission was essential to how God ordered creation from the beginning. After God created humans, he gave them a mission. “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground” (Genesis 1:28).
Jesus and Mission
Jesus had a clear mission for his life as well. We don’t know much about Jesus’ growing up years, but from what we do know, it appeared as if Jesus was at least somewhat aware of his mission from a young age and was preparing for it. There is a story in the book of Luke that describes how Jesus and his family went to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. Jesus was 12 years old at this time. After the festival ended, Jesus’ parents returned home, but Jesus stayed behind. When his parents finally realized he wasn’t with them, they were worried. Jesus had stayed in the temple, listening to the teachers and asking them questions. When his parents confronted him, Jesus replied, “Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49).
In what could be considered his mission statement, Jesus went into the synagogue in Nazareth, where he had been brought up. He read from the prophet Isaiah: “‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor’ Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing’” (Luke 4:16-21).
At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus said that his mission was about justice, healing, and proclaiming the kingdom of God. He was clear—he knew what actions and activities fell at the center of his mission, and what was more peripheral. As you read through the Gospels, you will notice that Jesus had a laser focus with how he lived his life. If something lined up with his mission, he did it. Otherwise, he let it go. In the same way, once we are clear about our mission, we are better able to organize our life in such a way so that we are living out our mission on a daily basis, and letting the other stuff go.