Over the last year I have had contact with Scott Boren. Scott is a brilliant mid who has has been doing work in the missional church and small groups but is a brilliant mind in his use of practical theology. Scott is the author of Missional Small Groups, and many other books. I deeply appreciate Scott’s heart for localized Church and seeing it to his full potential. I am honored to have Scott as my first guest blog post. I think you’ll love how Scott confronts the angry God of mission.
What Sort of God is “on Mission?”
After our first child was born, he had the hiccups and could not sleep at 2 a.m. My sleep habits were in shock. My body cried out for sleep in ways that I never knew during my many all-nighters in college. While stumbling around hoping he’d go to sleep soon, an old song popped into my head: “He does not sleep, nor does he slumber.”
I had sung those words assuming that God’s lack of need for sleep was based on his omnipotence, that he does not “need” sleep, something like a Christianized version of Zeus. That night I was awake not because of my power, but because I was deeply loving my son. I saw God’s love for the first time, not as all-consuming power but as self-sacrificial love. Later I found those words in Psalm 121 were it reads, “He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” The Psalmist based God’s wakeful attention on God’s committed love, his steadfast faithfulness.
Over the last decade, the concept of missio dei has become a significant teaching. It’s simply the Latin term for “mission of God.” Alan Roxburgh and I wrote, “Missio dei calls us to see that God is up to something radically different than we imagined and that there is another vibrant, powerful, awesome river streaming toward us.” (Introducing the Missional Church, 70). It’s God’s mission, not ours.
But what sort of mission is God on? I hear people talk about a God of power, retribution and judgment. Those people go on mission with the same power, retribution and judgment. I know this first hand. I’d judge those who were not in church, entrapped in poverty or enslaved by addiction. Because I thought God was like this, I was also.
But Psalm 121 reveals a different kind of God. The God revealed in Jesus as he died on the cross for those who treated him as an enemy is vastly different. Power does not result in love. But love results in power.
How we experience God is the way we will share God. The kind of God you see on mission is the way you will go on mission.
M. Scott Boren is the Founder of the Center for Community and Mission (www.mscottboren.com), partners with The Missional Network (www.themissionalnetwork.com) and the author of eight books. Follow him on twitter @mscottboren or check out his blog: http://scottboren.blogspot.com/