The Paradigm of "Call" and "Send" from Jesus to His Followers
This model of God calling and then sending people to do his will of "blessing" to bring Shalom into God's creation continues from the old Testament into its fulfillment in Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ call to people in the gospels was to “follow me.” But Jesus also warned them, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). In other words, “following” cannot be just an add-on, a means for blessing to our current lifestyles. Jesus is demanding that his followers leave the lives that the world offers as the “good life,” and replace it with what God has determined to be the good life.
Brueggemann states, “It is clear that Jesus enacts a major claim upon people’s lives that places their lives in crisis, the same sovereign claim that is so uncompromising in the narratives of Abraham and Moses” (The Word That Redescribes the World: The Bible and Discipleship, p. 95).
To become a follower of Jesus is to honestly assess the broken, unjust, and oppressive systems of the world and how I personally have capitulated to these systems and have embraced and contributed to their destructive power in the lives of others and of God’s good creation.
But that is not all. To be a follower of Jesus also means to decide, often through a pool of sweat and tears, to no longer be a part of that and to instead follow the ways of the sovereign King, Jesus Christ. Each one of us is in our own “Ur,” and God is calling us to “go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land that I will show you.”
Brueggemann writes, “God means for us to disengage from the postures, habits, and assumptions that define the world of power and injustice that is so devoid of mercy and compassion in every area of life” (p. 95).
This is the radical life into which Christ is calling his people. He wants me, as a leader of a missional Christian community, to direct these people into “an alternative life in the world” (p. 99).
This life is marked, in Brueggemann’s words, by both “talk” and “walk.” Our “talk” is the proclamation of the gospel that Jesus commanded his disciples to proclaim: “The kingdom of God has come near to you.”
This, of course, is not the gospel that most American churches are proclaiming. They, instead, have focused on many other things. My particular church background proclaimed a gospel of individual salvation from eternal damnation and a promise of heaven after one dies.
The gospel of the Kingdom is much more holistic than this truncated gospel. It proclaims that God’s original intention for this world will not be thwarted. It proclaims that through Christ, all things will be restored. It offers people the opportunity to actually be used by God to bring healing to this broken world, with the hopeful anticipation that one day God will bring it all to culmination.
Our “talk,” then, exists alongside our “walk.”