The name we call ourselves sounds auftly covert to me, Missional Cohort. Really it's a bunch of pastors and the like from around the area who are thinking missionally about their communities of faith. Most of us are leading church plants, cell churches, or are attempting to resurrect churches innercity churches that are in sharp decline. We had a great conversation today about John chapter 17, Jesus' high priestly prayer. Through this prayer we come to understand Jesus' Trinitarian role as priest. Jesus, the incarnation of God, made the mysterious and unseen God seen in flesh and blood. If we believe in Jesus we are connected to the Father. Vs. 26 says, "I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them and I in them." Here we find that the bond between the Father and Son is love. The Greek word for that bond is pericoresis which brings about images of a dance. That Trinitarian love, Jesus prays, will be in us when Jesus is in us. That's the point that hit me. In verse 25 Jesus is says that world does not know God, but then he says that we can know God through the love that the Father has for the Son and the Son has for us. In essence John 17 is creating a picture where all people are swept up into the Trinitarian dance of love, all through the revelation of God's love through the Son.
Our conversation made a few other interesting points.
First, there are no lines drawn on who is in or who is out. Jesus says 17:1 - 2, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him."
The second point was that all of God's mission occurs through the Son. Our theology of mission must be extremely christocentric. Christ is the only way in which we can know the father. While we may have hope in the first point, that all people will be saved through the love of God revealed in the son and played out in this world through the church, we must always be centered on Christ.
Third, the bond between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is a missional love. The love of the father for the Son and Holy Spirit is not a closed love, but a sending love which sends the Son into the world to die and sends the Holy Spirit into the world to save. And so, our worship is participation in the Trinity. Our worship is participation in the love of God for the Son and the Son's love for us. And therefore, our worship necessitates a missional sending, for the love of God is a missional love that is seeking all those who have not yet experienced that love. We are not sent into a missional setting apart from God, rather the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God's love, goes before us, behind us, and within us.
[My father in law, Terry Mann, quoted C.S. Lewis the other day. Have you ever heard someone say that there was a "good spirit in the room"? Basically saying things felt good, people were happy, etc. Well, when the Father and Son are together the the resulting spirit is the Holy Spirit. The "spirit in the room" is so good that it is personified in the third person of the Trinity. It is that spirit of love that goes before us into every missional context of life.] Does anybody know if that was about what Lewis was saying in Mere Christianity?
So the love of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is a missional love, a sending and seeking love, a love that draws us up into the life of the Trinitarian God (ascension) and sends us out into the mission of God (incarnation).