Deep Impact

Making an impact

There was a time when I thought God’s desire for my life was to make the biggest impact in the world I possibly could. I remember preaching a sermon about that idea, where I used the scene in the movie Deep Impact when the asteroid hits the earth to illustrate making an impact in the world. I now see how stupid that illustration was, since the impact of the asteroid only created destruction and devastation. But I digress.

Making disciples

I am beginning to receive the Great Commission as a great relief. God has not called me (or you) to save the world. Jesus did not say, “Go and make disciples of the whole world.” He said, “Go and make disciples of every people [ethne or people group].” (Matt 28:19) I am not denying God loves the whole world. We all know John 3:16. But we are not God. His mandate is more personal and specific. Let me try to explain.

Mission as project

It is easy for me to approach the mission as a project. Jesus was clear that the mission was to real people, in real places (Acts 1:8). Andy Crouch recently wrote how mission gets put in faceless, impersonal terms of “engaging culture”. He says, “Our mission is not primarily to ‘engage the culture’ but to ‘love our neighbor.’” (CT July/August 2016 page 34). Mission as a project to engage the culture becomes so murky. How do we really know if we are making a difference?

Let God make a difference

We are not called to make a difference. We are called to make disciples. Real, flesh-and-blood people, in real places, at this particular time in history. That is why I am glad the mission of The Alliance says nothing about reaching the world. We have agreed to work at the mission Jesus gave us: to make disciples. As Stephen Freeman wrote, “Let God make all the difference in the world.” The part of the mission God has invited us into is with people. He will work out the cosmic redemption himself.

Fostering inaction

This is where we as mission mobilizers have to be so careful. If we communicate mission as a global project, I believe they can become overwhelmed and paralyzed about what to do. Presenting a vision of reaching the world can actually foster inaction. I am reminded of C.S. Lewis’ words about global, impersonal worry becoming an escape from personal charity. This is why partnerships with the international workers who are present in the places we are not, become so important. We are to do the work we can and support those (real people) doing what we can’t.

Fulfilled together

Be encouraged that God does not expect you to impact the world. You are fulfilling his mandate as you are faithful in making disciples of real people in real places. None of us can accomplish the mission alone. By God’s design, it can only be fulfilled together.

Title Signature Screenshot Cartoon 2015