Christine Harding is the New Zealand Director of OMF, this month’s featured strategic mission partner of MISSION WORLD.
We’ve seen an unusual amount of rain over the early summer – everyone seems to be commenting on it. While humans might bemoan the scarcity of long, hot, sunny, rainless days, I noticed that my lawn, and the gardens of my neighbours, thrived in the convergence of great growing conditions. What more could grass want, warmth and good soil that is well watered?
While we recognise God’s sovereignty in his mission, we usually see fruitfulness when there is a convergence of good growing conditions: people spiritually hungry and prepared by the Spirit, equipped and resourced messengers, and opportunity.
Just as in nature, fruitfulness depends on a convergence of a number of factors, so it does in God’s mission. Whatever happens in a particular area can be influenced by a whole team of people. Some will be present in that location, but there will be many who are not limited by geographical location, language, health or finance, who offer a myriad of gifts, abilities and resources. When this ‘convergence’ happens we often see transformation and growth of the body of Christ.
There are some disciples of Jesus who struggle with the thought that they too are called to participate in God’s mission. Some perceive being involved in mission as an ‘optional extra.’ A worldview change may be needed for many of us as we come to accept that everybody has a role in God’s mission.
Mission is not a discretionary activity of the church; it flows out of the very being of the character of God. Our God is a missionary God, a sending God who, through Christ, seeks reconciliation, redemption and healing for humanity and creation.
Jesus came to earth on this mission and, after his resurrection, instructed his disciples (this includes his disciples in the 21st Century) to continue this same mission: “As the Father has sent me so I am sending you,” (John 20:19).
Every one of us is unique and equipped by God to contribute in different ways to creating great ‘growing conditions’ for the growth of the body of Christ worldwide, irrespective of whether we are based in New Zealand or elsewhere. What we each contribute is no less important than anyone else, and we’ll never be able to measure the total effectiveness of our contribution until we meet Jesus face to face.
May we all be inspired afresh in 2012 as we partner together for ‘good growing conditions,’ and may the Lord add fruitfulness!