There’s a story I just read about a man who finds himself in the valley of the blind. He can see, but these kind and gentle folk don’t even know what see means because for 12 generations they’ve been blind. When he comes into the valley talking about sight, vision, eyes and seeing they mock him, despise him and say he’s an idiot. There are no such words, there is no such thing.
Yet he can see and they are blind. A doctor comes to examine this seeing man and comes to realize that the protruding things he calls eyes are the cause for this mans insanity and in order to cure him the eyes must be cut off. These folks didn’t have eyes, they had sunken sockets, so they knew nothing of protruding eyes like the young man did. He was an odd ball to them, weird, insane and making no sense because they were blind.
He was their hope to understanding the beauty of things seen, but many of them refused to even give him the opportunity to speak.
You see, as Christians, we are the seeing man among the blind community. To many, our seeing, eyes and sight sounds weird, dumb and idiotic. Many can’t interact with the message because to those blind for generations, the words don’t even exist in their vocabulary.
In order to speak to the blind community, this young man needed to engage them on their level of understanding and slowly bring them to the understanding of sight and what it means to see.
We have the same task before us, to incarnate ourselves within the community of the blind in order to get them to see. How do we do this? How does this connect to the Missio Dei or the mission of God? I believe the answer is it IS the missio dei!
Many have dubbed it “missional” because it is the very mission God has given us and showed us how to do it best.
So, we are forced to ask these questions: What is Missional? And Why Missional?
Alan Hirsch said: “Missional church is a community of God’s people that defines itself by, and organizes its life around, its real purpose of being an agent of God’s mission to the world.”
Reading Through John 1:1-5 & 14-18, and seeing the Mission of God displayed in the incarnation I think we can grab some great keys to why we should be missional.
I. The World is Blind (Vs. 5 & 18)
The beautiful story of the mysterious incarnation is remarkable to think about, audacious to believe but 100% true. God became man and dwelt among us and he did this to Shine light into the darkness. Due to original sin, we humans were now born blind as the community of the blind was. Sight was no longer even known to us a few generations down the line, yet God in His mercy and love desired for us to see once again.
The problem with a lot of evangelism today is that many well meaning Christians know they can see and those they are sharing with are blind but they do not use the experience of incarnation to show the blind their blindness. Instead they try to reason with them, try to show them their blindness by mere words and arguments. If they are blind, just as the blind community in our story and have had generations of blindness, they will think our words idiotic and will dismiss them as the blind men did the young man who could see. We can’t argue a blind man into sight! We must lead them to the great God who can do the miraculous work of healing and opening the eyes. We are seed planters, God does the miraculous work!
We are light to their darkness. This can only be done best life on life. We must place ourselves among the blind communities, live there, rest there and commune there among the blind. Enter their space, (not their blindness mind you but their space). Know them, know their ways, love them and gently display light before them.
What drives me bonkers is that this way of thinking is why we send out missionaries to Africa or Saudi Arabia or China, this very idea of incarnation, living among, resting and eating with…yet here, in our back yard, we try to have holy separatist huddles and blitz the blind with “sight” campaigns and we look crazy, foolish and idiotic all the while enforcing to them that their way of living is better. (See my post on why I Yelled…At a Street Preacher)
II. God is our Example (vs. 14-16)
Jesus was the first missionary, sent on mission from God to be God in the flesh, to dwell among us, to be with us and lovingly direct us to himself, where we would find healing, restoration, redemption, forgiveness and life. He then sent His Spirit to indwell us so we can continue his mission of dwelling among the world to continue his mission to lovingly direct us to himself, the only place we would find healing, restoration, redemption, forgiveness and life! He was the example of how to do it, why to do it and what it looks like to do it. If God did it, I think we should be doing the same, don’t you?
In Part 2, we’ll look at further implications of being missional. Until then, comment. Share your thoughts. Bring arguments. Bring compliments. Do you feel “missional” as defined here is the way, or not?