I saw a commercial tonight, and it was terrible. I mean, really, really awful. It was designed to get me to by a CD for my children (or rather, to get them to pester me until I buy them the CD) and it contained many well known songs from today’s top artists.
The commercial showed a bunch of teenagers parading around to chart topping songs and lip-syncing with the artists.
Well, they were trying to lip sync, but it was off. Way off. Noticeably off. So much so that it was distracting. They even had children narrate portions of the commercial. Those were also done via lip-sync. And that too was off.
Staring, appalled at how poor the commercial was done, I then thought, “That’s how we treat the Gospel sometimes.”
Let me explain.
It’s been addressed many ways, this understanding that within each of us there is something special, divine, or unique. A God shaped part in all of us, a divine spark by which we can set the world on fire when we let Him blow it into a flame inside of us. An awakening, like something long forgotten that has laid dormant within us suddenly coming to life.
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness… God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day. Genesis 1: 26, 31
Later it would be said,
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind… The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1: 1-4, 14
Within all of us there is this capacity to awaken to everything that God has for us, to be fully awake and fully present, to participate here and now in the life of the Kingdom and in the way of the King.
Missional living is about proclaiming with our lips and our lives that Jesus is savior, and when people see that, they can’t help but sing along.
That to me is the essence of what the Gospel is about: the awakening of our souls from a deep sleep to see life as God would have it. Salvation in Jesus is much more than something to be experienced when we die, but something that we can choose to be a part of here and now. When Jesus calls us to repent and believe in the good news we are being invited into God’s divine story, an ever present reality that teaches what it is like to live life as God designed, to live in rhythm and harmony with him and to draw others into that movement.
So how is this like a poorly designed commercial?
We treat the Gospel like a bad lip-sync when we live a religious life, but not a missional one.
When all we do is talk about the importance of a life with Jesus, and never live it in front of others, it’s like a bad lip-sync. People sense that they can hear the real thing, but it’s not all there, something is missing. You can sense that the real thing is close, but something is off.
For the Jesus follower, the idea of joining the mission of God is not an optional add-on to be performed by the religious elite, the specially trained, or the really dedicated. It is something that God has given all followers when he said, “Go and make disciples.” The rhythm and beauty of our life is not found merely in words, but in action and deed. For us to fully and completely display the authentic Jesus to people, our life must match our words.
Any true, authentic measure of faith must be lived out in the flesh. Failure to do so can leave people with only a dim spark of God-shaped-ness inside of them instead of the consuming fire that he desires. Missional living then, is not so much about trumpeting truth, winning the culture war, or reclaiming something that we might want to claim has been lost. Faithful, missional living is less about any of these because none of these (if we are honest with ourselves) are never about pointing people to God, they are about proving ourselves right and justifying what we already believe. Missional living is instead about joining the divine dance, in perfect sync and rhythm with God, a movement that draws people to experience this life in the full and glorious splendor that God intended. Missional living is about proclaiming with our lips and our lives that Jesus is savior, and when people see that, they can’t help but sing along.
Question: How do you live intentionally do draw people into the story of God?