By REV. LUNA DINGAYAN
“I have seen the affliction of my people… I have heard their cry… And I have come down to deliver them… to bring them to… a land flowing with milk and honey… Come, and I will send you… But I will be with you…” — Exodus 3:7-12
LAST OF FIVE PARTS
God’s abiding presence
Finally, spirituality for mission will also require us to realize God’s abiding presence. When Moses said to God, “I am nobody, how can I go to the King of Egypt and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” God answered him saying, “I will be with you “. When Jesus Christ our Lord gave the Great Commission to his disciples, he also concluded saying, “I will be with you always to the end of the age” (Mt.28: 16-20).
The God we believe in is not only a God who calls, but also a God who provides. When God calls us to fulfill a particular task, God in wondrous ways will also provide the necessary resources to fulfill that task. I am saying this not only as a cold doctrinal belief, but as a testimony of my own personal experience as a servant of God and as a head of an institution for theological education.
The fulfillment of God’s mission in the world does not depend upon us. It does not depend upon our own strength and resources, not even the help of our partners in mission. Rather it depends ultimately upon God’s abiding presence. God said, “I will be with you “.
In his letter to the Romans, the great missionary of the Early Church, Apostle Paul, said, “If God is with us, who can be against us? Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble do it, or hardship or persecution or hunger or poverty or danger or death? No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us. There is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:31-39).
God’s abiding presence transforms our fears and anxieties into courage and hope. Moses knew that doing God’s mission in the world is not an easy task. He knew that he had to face the powers-that-be in Egypt. He knew that he had to convince the people that their genuine aspirations as a people are also God’s own aspirations for them. He had to convince the people that there is more to life than slavery and oppression. As a matter of fact, Moses knew that it is far more difficult to convince the people who are slaves about their own need to be free than to break the hardened heart of the Pharaoh and to let the people go.
Moses knew that in doing God’s mission in the world he would be treated harshly by his own people, that he would be criticized by those whom he loved, that he would be charged with all sorts of things, that he would be betrayed by those for whom he would risked his own life. Moses realized that he could not do God’s mission in the world alone with his own strength. That’s why he said, “Who am I that I should go to the Pharaoh and let the people go?” But with God’s abiding presence Moses knew that he can do something in order that his own people who had been slaves for a long time will be set free.
At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus Christ our Lord knew that in fulfilling God’s mission in the world he would ultimately face the cruel cross. But nevertheless, he said to the Tempter in the wilderness, “Worship the Lord your God, and him alone you shall serve “(Mt 4:10). And to those who would like to be his followers, Jesus Christ our Lord also said, “If anyone wants to come with me, he must forget himself, carry his cross, and follow me” (Mk.8:34).
But God’s promise is so great to those who remain faithful in their commitment to God and his mission in the world; he said to them, “I will be with you”. Prophet Isaiah reminds us that “they who wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint”(Isa. 40:31).
Mission as life commitment
Let me now end by saying that commitment to God and his mission in the world is not just a commitment of a few hours and a few pesos; but rather it is a commitment of life. A church that is truly committed to God and his mission in the world is a church whose whole life and works are geared towards the fulfillment of God’s mission in the world.
Many of our people today are like the doubting Thomas; they are looking for proof that the church indeed is Christ’s resurrected body commissioned to do God’s mission in the world. According to Thomas, the proof that a body is indeed Christ resurrected body are the scars on the hands and on the side (cf. John 23:24-29). These are the signs that such body really suffered for others in doing God’s mission in the world.
If Jesus Christ our Lord did not teach the poor people of Galilee about the reality of God’s Kingdom; if he did not cure the sick and gave them wholeness of life; if he did not denounce the abuses and hypocrisies of the Scribes and Pharisees and forgive the sinners; if he did not overturn the tables of the Sadducees in the Temple and announce the good news of God’s reign; then, perhaps he would not have gotten all those scars of nails on his hands.
My church has her own share of scars of nails on her hands. Quite a number of our leaders and members had shed not only their tears, but their own blood for taking seriously God’s mission in the world. And as we continue our commitment to God and his mission in the world, certainly we would also continue to receive more scars of nails on our hands.
The scars of nails on the hands of Jesus and of the church are the scars of mission. They symbolize not only the sinfulness of humanity, but also the love of God that takes away the sins of the world.
As we live our spirituality for mission in the world, let us be reminded by the words of Jesus Christ our Lord when he said, “In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33). # nordis.net