The Sending God

September 10, 2009

I believe it was in the book Adventures in Mission the Point by Brian McClaren and Tony Campolo that I first became acquainted with the idea that “all theologies are heresies in that on one level or another they all fail to accurately describe our infinite God” (forgive the paraphrase if you know that actual quote–or better yet, add it in the comments!).  The reason this quote does not lead me to despair is that I find it a constant catalyst for me to return to my Lord to be renewed daily.  I will never “arrive”, and so I continue to journey onward, elated that how far I have come is not how far I will go.

Circumstances in recent days have demonstrated again the validity of the above quote.  And so, let me add my some simple commentary to an already lengthy conversation exploring the God who goes (Blessed are those who persevere to the end…)

When God creates he is hovering over the surface of the waters (Gen. 1:2) and he “sees” that his creation is good (Gen. 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31).

When God creates man he forms him out of the “soil of the ground” (Gen. 2:6) and breathes life in to him (out of himself Gen. 2:7)

God himself plants and orchard (Gen. 2:8) and tells man to do as He has done: to go out so that he might fill the earth with His image through multiplication (Gen. 1:27-28)

After the fall God comes down and searches for Adam and Eve, even calling out to them as He goes out (Ge. 3:8-9)

As Cain struggles with his anger towards Able God speaks to him (Gen. 4:6).  Later after Cain has murdered his brother, God again goes out and meets with Cain, again pursuing him with questions (Gen. 4:9).

Prior to the flood, God goes down and sees the wickedness of humanity (Gen. 6:5), instructing Noah oh escaping judgement (Gen. 7) and blessing him after the flood (Gen. 9).

When mankind denied God’s command for them to fill the earth with his image, congregating at Babel, he went down and confused their languages (Gen. 11).

At Abram’s calling God tells him to go where he leads, so that through him the whole world might be blessed (Gen. 12).

God calls himself Abraham’s “shield and protector” as he again talks with Abraham (Gen. 15).

Hagar, the mother of Ishmael, comes to know “the God who sees me” as he intervenes in her situation to keep her alive (Gen. 16).

In Abraham’s interactions with Melchizedek (Gen. 14) and with the kings of Egypt (Gen. 12) and Gerar (Gen. 20), he is surprised to find that God is known in placed he did not think God to be active.

God comes down and talks with Abraham on his way to judge Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18).

The Lord is called “the Lord provides” when he steps in and provides a sacrifice in place of Isaac (Gen. 24).

Stopping short of going all the way through the Old Testament, let’s just suffice it to say that our God is not just a God who goes out–he is always outwardly mobile.

Imagine “God is love” if God is primarily inwardly mobile.  Or think of the doctrine of the trinity–it cannot be conceived in anything other than outward terms!

Moving in to the New Testament, Jesus is perhaps the most blatant outward movement of God.  What is Jesus coming as a man besides the natural movement of an outwardly, downwardly mobile God?!  Over and over again, he goes out during his earthly ministry to bear our sickness and our burdens  (Is. 53).  He comes proclaiming healing, liberation (Lk. 4 quoting Is. 61) as the Light of the world (John 8:12) come down in to darkness.  Finally, at the crux of the Gospel story, Jesus victoriously proclaims “It is finished!” as Jesus’ coming to bear of our sins is finally accomplished (Lk. 24).

As Jesus’ body grows and expands following the outward movement of the Spirit (John 20:23; Acts 2) to accomplish the Great Commission (Mt. 28:19-20) and Acts 1:8, we again see a stalled people, pre-occupied with Jerusalem at the expense of the rest of God’s command in Acts 1:8.  So, the outwardly mobile God moves to bring his people back in line with His heart through the persecution of Paul (another Joseph story–“what you meant for evil, God used for good”).  And the results are staggering as the gospel comes to spread across the entire world in a matter of years (growing from 120 believers to an estimate 20 million!) through the dispersion of Spirit-led, dependent followers of Jesus! Paul at least is convinced that this is the same outward movement that should typify Jesus’ church as well (Phil. 2:5-8)

Under Jesus’ good and righteous reign from the clouds (Acts 2:32-35) the Gospel of Jesus goes out unchained (Acts 28) bearing fruit in all the world (Col. 1:6; Gen. 1:28), even finding its way in to Caesar’s household itself! (Phil 4:22)  One day our King will come and make his permanent dwelling with man once again as the New Jerusalem descends on Jesus’ renewed earth and we will all worship the going-out God who did not stay in his heavenly confines, but who goes out to seek and to save the lost multitudes.

As light in darkness, sheep among wolves, and salt that has found its way out of the salt shaker, ours is to bear our crosses and to go out where he leads us, like the Samaritan woman, the Gadarene Demoniac and the Ethiopian eunuch, out on mission with the going-out God.  What are we waiting for?!


One Response to “The Sending God”

  1. […] eyes from the what of his church’s doing (Acts 2:42-47) to the why (Acts 1:8).  He is the God who sends, and because he has come himself, I know that he is also going before us […]

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