Missional spirituality – finding God in the busy-ness of life

By Wayne Schwab

Photo by Shadowmeld Photography

God is on mission. God is at work in the world everywhere, every moment, to overcome evil – whatever blocks love and justice – and to bring and to increase love and justice. Love is valuing the other person and helping that person to live life as fully as possible. Justice is the public face of love. Justice is how we love in a “crowd” when we cannot see those we affect face-to-face.  When you cannot have face-to-face relationships, you work for everyone to have equal access to the good things in life. Our world today is in desperate need of Christians seeking to be loving and just wherever they are, all the time – in both public and private life.

Wherever you find love and justice, or the need for them, you find God at work.

Jesus Christ is the center of God’s mission for Christians. God’s power over evil, sin, and death has come among us in Jesus Christ. The story of Jesus is one of power over sickness, evil, sin, and death. Jesus is the victor – the victor over sickness, evil, sin, and death!

Jesus comes proclaiming the kingdom of God: the rule of God in human life, the power of God at work among us now.  His words and actions demonstrate this proclamation:

  • “If it is by the Spirit of God I cast out demons, then the kingdom – the power – of God has come upon you.” [Matt 12:28]
  • “Who is this that the winds and the waves obey him?” (Mark 4:41)
  • “He gave them authority over the unclean spirits” (Mark 6:7) so that his disciples might preach and heal.

Each of us can choose to walk a spiritual path. That journey inward / journey outward must, each day, unite prayer and action. Life is indeed hectic and overly busy. The Christian needs to learn to discern what God is doing in the midst of a busy moment and join what God is doing there now. That is the journey outward. The journey inward, then, is learning to discern God at work within us in the busy moments of daily life. So that is our focus for a missionary spirituality – learning to discern what God is doing and joining God in that work.

Seeing God at work

by Demi Prentiss

A large part of living our ministries in daily life is cultivating the ability to perceive where God is acting, and then aligning ourselves with what God is up to. Understanding ourselves as co-creators with God – partners in a whole-life commitment to increasing love and justice in the world – is a life-giving, purposeful way of living God’s dream for our lives.

So how do you see where God is acting? How can you tell?

Look at events. In those events in our world that are clearly life-giving, it’s pretty easy to say, “Yes, God’s at work here.” But what about the terrible events? The heart-wrenching, “it-can’t-be” events? Take a page out of Fred Rogers’ book – look for the helpers. In the “Cajun navy” that jumped into john-boats to rescue neighbors and strangers when the floods came. In the three strangers who defended Muslim teenagers on a commuter train. In the teacher who spots the middle-schooler who’s being abused at home, or trafficked. In the midst of the brokenness around us, God is working in and through the helpers.

A young survivor is gently extracted from the wreckage of Korean Airlines flight 801 by U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and Guam civilian rescuers.

Look at people. Especially, look at the people we tend to overlook – the bank teller, the cab driver, the grocery checker or bagger, the janitor, the bag lady. Look at those around you who are acquainted with grief (Is. 53:3). As you can, take a pause, take up your courage, and speak a word of hope or encouragement or simple acknowledgment of their humanity. Looking into their eyes, look for the light of God. You won’t always find it, particularly the first time. But practice makes it lots easier. The Celts claimed that the lark said, “Often, often, often goes the Christ in the stranger’s guise.”

Look at the world – both the natural and the created one.  All around us, God is showing up and showing off, as Reggie McNeal likes to say. In a leaf or a feather. In the music of the rain and the crash of a water fall. In the heart-grabbing poetry of inspiring architecture.  In the shadow of Earth pushing the twilight across the landscape until night falls. In the joy of an unexpected reunion.

Look inside your heart.  Take the time to notice what ignites your passion. Or what makes your pulse race.  Or unleashes tears. God’s invitation to partnership is showing up in those moments.

My friend Mary Earle often reminded me, “The Holy Spirit is a crass opportunist.” Pay attention to what you observe, and what you discern as God opens your eyes. As William Blake’s “Pentecost” reminds us, “Unless the eye catch fire, the God will not be seen.”

What is God’s mission?

by Wayne Schwab

Need a fresh and still biblical way to describe God’s mission?

God is on mission to make the world more loving and more just.

Wherever we meet love or justice, we are meeting God at work.

Wherever love or justice are weak or missing, God is at work to bring them.  Look around.  You will see signs of God at work somewhere, somehow.

Read the biblical story that way.  As the story unfolds, we are slowly getting the message that God does not want violence; God wants love and justice.

So, love at home but also be sure that you are fair with each other.

So, be just and pay fairly at work.  Pay fairly because you know and love your co-workers.

Seek to be loving and just and you are already part of God’s mission.  Open “eyes of faith” and see God helping you to love and to be just.