Participating in the bigger picture
Co-director of Missions Conference Cody Nord ends the group prayer over Mickey Klink. It is Klink's last semester teaching at Biola, as he will be moving to northern Illinois to pastor a church there. | Kalli Thommen/THE CHIMES
After attending associate professor of biblical and theological studies Mickey Klink's seminar tonight, “God is Missionary,” not only will I now pay closer attention to when mountains and gardens are noted in the Bible, but also I am never going to think of the word “missionary” as a word exclusively describing the work of the Church and Bride of Christ, but rather as a word that first and foremost describes the nature of the Bridegroom himself.
The idea of missions not being something we merely “do” really hit home for me because as a child I imagined that when I grew up I would be a missionary who would live like John the Baptist and only eat grasshoppers and honey and things like that.
I just knew I wanted to live for God, and thought that doing something for him, accomplishing something really important or making a huge sacrifice was what that entailed. As I grew up, I began to realize — and Klink’s session tonight reaffirmed this truth in my heart — that missions is not at all about accomplishments, a plan to get from point A to point B, or a duty that I need to fulfill.
What is it then?
“Your existence is to participate in a missionary God,” Klink said.
Participation. Missions is participation and partnership. What a relieving, yet stretching, word. I say relieving because, well, to state the obvious: Evangelizing the world was not our own idea. It was God’s idea because God’s nature is missionary, as Klink emphasized. And hands down, Jesus himself is the greatest evangelist. The world is his mission field, and our response is that we get to take our little lives, lay them down at his feet, and follow his footsteps. He leads us, and as Klink said, he is in no way distant from us as we “go into all the world to make disciples of all nations.”
On the other hand, I say is stretching because Klink closed telling a story of when he realized his degree, gifts and talents were not about him, but all about Christ. It forced him to reevaluate where he was getting his identity from.
“Everyone in here is a missionary if you are believer in Jesus Christ. And God has put you right here where you are for a purpose because he’s gardening the earth,” Klink said.
I don’t think Klink was saying it will not take hard work or a sense of duty to do the things God has prepared in advance for us to do. I think tonight’s session actually emphasized that hard work, when done by resting in his grace and redemption and accomplishment on the cross, and by working as “co-gardeners” with Him, as Klink said, is glorifying to God.
No matter where we feel called, missions is not something we have the ability to create or accomplish on our own. It’s an act of obedience and a privilege embraced with joy. Sometimes mission means crossing over continents and sometimes mission means stay right here and go to the streets on Saturday afternoon. It may or may not look like eating grasshoppers and honey--I wouldn’t rule it out.
But my prayer is that this conference would leave us leaning into the reality of a missionary God, and worshipping him for who He is--as the one who came for us before we could ever come for him, and the God who has, by adopting us and giving us an identity as his Children, superseded anything we could ever possibly do for Him.
May we continue asking God what His picture of mission on the earth looks like and what it means to participate in that, becoming the distinguishing fragrance of Christ, the hope the world is hungry for.