Thursday, January 22, 2009
Your mission should you chose to accept it...
For: The Institute of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen's University, Essentials Blue Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt
Usually there is one thing that sticks out in the hours of reading and listening and writing that I do for this online course. This week it was something that Dan Wilt said in his video teaching (Dan Wilt, Essential Worship Theology, Week 2 video of Essentials Blue online course). And I quote, "We don't have a mission; a mission gets a hold of us."
I was preparing a few thoughts to contribute to our home group meeting last night. The topic was Decision-Making: directing your life without being a control freak. Interesting topic. As I thought about it and asked God about what he had to say on the subject, I remembered this line that Dan used in the video. And at that point I clearly saw that we are a very individualistic, self-centred, self-indulgent, and unsubmissive people. We act like we are the rulers of our own one-person countries. The decisions that we make and the goals that we strive towards inevitably revolve almost entirely around what we want and how we see things.
This became evident in some of the questions and comments that came up during the evening. Questions about why God does not give us specific direction in our life but seems to leave us hanging in major life decisions. Questions about why, if Jesus has truly healed us and set us free, should we stay away from certain things? Do you see how all these queries have the black vortex of self at the centre? What these questions are really asking is "Why are you not making my life as good as I want it to be?" It is asking "What's the point of Jesus dying if it does not make me free to do what I want?" And those are just bad questions. N.T. Wright says "Many of the questions we ask God can't be answered directly, not because God doesn't know the answers but because our questions don't make sense."
I am as guilty as anyone of making myself the subject of every sentence. I am always the one acting, feeling, thinking, believing, having a mission, learning, pursuing, conquering, meeting, relating, and perhaps even sometimes loving. But it is a skewed and deceptive paradigm that we are operating in, always relating everything we encounter to how it affects or impacts us. I am not the leading role in my own life: God is. I am not the primary subject: God is. I am not even the object: he is the one who originates everything and it all ends up back at him as well. How long will I write and re-write noble goals and missions for myself that sound oh so spiritual and wise before I realise that the true mission is so much bigger than me, my life, or anything I could come up with?
We discussed our purpose in life last night. Some said they want to serve God, and all their decisions are based on fulfilling that purpose. Some said they wanted to enjoy God and be enjoyed by him and they are trying to have their life choices reflect that. I realised that most of all, I want to be caught up in something that is way beyond me. I want to be overwhelmed by a larger-than-this-life God and see what he can do. I want to be so mesmerised by his beauty and love and energy that my tiny wants and desires are swallowed up into the vast wholeness of his being. I want to submit to him and to his mission.
This is the sun streaming through my window this afternoon, eclipsing everything else in the room.
 N.T. Wright, Simply Christian (New York: HarperCollins, 2006), 122.