Many years ago The Who asked the musical question “Who are you? Who, who, who, who?”. As we mature and age we all wrestle with that very question. Who am I? What am I going to be? How will I make a difference in the world?
At the beginning of his ministry Jesus wrestles with the same question. Right after his baptism by John Jesus is led out into the wilderness for a time of testing, a time of sorting out what it means to be, as was affirmed at his baptism, "you are my [God] Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased"
It is a common part of growing up. Decades ago in Junior High I remember talking about “Walkabout”, the story of a young Australian Aborigine who was taking part in a coming of age ritual, a journey of self-discovery. Or think about the many people who finish school and take a year off to “find themselves”. Getting a sense of who we are, of who God has shaped us to be allows us to make choices about careers, about volunteering, about how we will live our lives. It also allows us to figure out how we are going to be a part of God’s ongoing mission in the world.
Because God is at work in the world. God has a mission in the world and God is constantly inviting as, as individuals and as communities to participate in the missio Dei, God’s mission. And what is God’s mission?
Some suggest God’s mission is convert all people to one specific religion. I would tend to disagree. I think God has a broader vision.
As Mark tells the story, when Jesus appears on the scene and begins his ministry it is with these words: “The time is fulfilled, the Kingdom of God has come near”. And from then on Jesus is all about proclaiming the Kingdom of God. God’s mission is to bring the Kingdom of God to full flower here on earth. As we say in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy Kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven”.
Which leaves a few more questions (I was always taught that the most important things in life are the questions we ask). One is what good things are keeping you from sharing in God’s mission? When Jesus is led out into the wilderness for his time of testing the tempter offers three valuable and worthy options for how he can live out his life. He can feed the hungry, he can take political power and set things to right, he can be a miracle worker. Jesus sees through the trap and rejects all three. Then he goes on to be who God has called and shaped him to be – which includes feeding the hungry and working miracles as it happens. So what good options are drawing you away from what you truly feel called to do?
Another question is the one that started this column. Who are you? Who are you now, in this season of your life? The role we have to play in God’s mission is intrinsically linked to who we are. And so as we change our role may also change. Who are you? What giftedness is attached to you being who you are?
What is your passion? What are your talents (and yes everyone has talents)? I believe that if we listen with our hearts our passion tells us where God is calling us to go. Years ago Frederick Beuchner wrote “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Aristotle said “Where your talents and the needs of the world cross; there lies your vocation.”. What is your passion, what are your talents? What needs do you see in the world around you that intersect with your passion and your talents?
God is at work in the world. God invites each of us to share in the building up of the Kingdom of God. Each one of us is challenged to use the gifts God has given us for the betterment of the world.
Look at yourself. Ask how you can use what you have to participate in God’s mission. And who knows, you may find that you are already doing it. In his book Already Missional Dr. Brad Morrison points out that many churches are full of people sharing in God’s Mission in their communities. We just don’t always recognize that what we are doing is part of building the Kingdom.
Thank you for the work you are already doing! And keep your eyes open, God may have a job waiting just for you.