Jesus was incarnational: God in flesh. He lived among the people. Being missional means being immersed in culture, understanding how to speak the language, and not being scared to engage people from all walks of life. Jesus did not come to erect a building, introduce a new style of worship, or invite people to a service on Sunday. He became friends with the poor and marginalized… those in need of a physician.
Jesus is the ultimate example of what it means to be incarnational. When God puts on flesh we’d better pay attention. He was born poor and grew up in a meager town on the wrong side of the tracks (or should I say sea). The very people that watched him become a man also rejected him. Jesus made little impact in his hometown amount his own people. How would you handle being rejected by your own family and friends?
So, Jesus became friends of sinners. He hung out with those who had been rejected by society. He lived on the margins. He took God’s love to the place people never expected to find it. Jesus because love to those who had never experienced it. His radical acts of love caused him a tremendous amount of trouble in the eyes of the religious establishment. But he kept loving anyway.
I think the church today seeks too much esteem. “Look at what we’ve accomplished” is the cry of our age. However, when we examine the Early Church, we discover that the only model they knew was one of rejection by the world’s standards. Those that had been Jesus’ disciples saw how he removed himself from the crowds and wanted no fame or fortune for his ability to lead others to God.
His purpose was to make disciples: to create clusters of people that carried out the mission of God. He realized that only through discipleship would the kingdom mandate be carried on after he was gone. In fact, it’s through discipleship that the kingdom lives on forever.
A missional church understands that it is primarily a community of people being trained and equipped to live among the world as missionaries. The same principle as learning to be a missionary in a foreign field must be applied in our own backyards. We must learn to live life with the people we are trying to reach. This means we learn to speak the language, go to the places, and immerse ourselves in the culture. It involves spending time with real people in the real world.
Jesus spent a lot of time with his disciples. The scripture teaches that they traveled together: eating, sleeping, and sharing life. The Greek word is diatribe means “to wear through.” That’s what spending time together should do: force us to wear through on one another. Discipleship involved ‘wearing through.’ It means that I wear through on you, you wear through on me, and one big family we shall be!