Many of you are familiar with Yosemite National Park in California and you probably know that rock climbers gather there from around the world to test their skills on the amazing granite cliffs. There is one rock face in particular in Yosemite that is known to be the most challenging vertical climb in the whole world. It’s called El Capitan.
For decades, climbers have been scaling El Capitan to compete for the fastest ascent. In 1958, a team of expert climbers went from bottom to top in 47 days. Since then, with better equipment and techniques, climbers have improved their times from several weeks down to several days. For years, the best teams were summiting El Cap in a matter of four days, maybe shaving 20 minutes off of the fastest time. But last year, a climber from Sacramento named Alex Honnold did something phenomenal. With no ropes and no pack, Alex free climbed El Cap by himself in 3 hours and 56 minutes. The climbing world was stunned. No one had ever conceived of doing something like that before. From weeks to days to hours – it required someone to think differently.
When I first heard that story, my mind immediately went to the sheer rock face that we are climbing called reaching the world for Jesus. Are we getting closer to our goal? Are we too called to think differently?
Inspired by the radical pioneers of rock climbing, we’ve been praying into how we need to respond to the challenge of global mission. We realize that we need to think differently, and God has been faithful to lead us into four new approaches to mission.
One Body. Not many bodies or ministries roped together, but one body, the Body of Christ. Jesus’ prayer for us today is that “all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:21). Jesus is challenging us to think differently, beginning with our oneness with the Father and then our oneness with the entire Body of Christ. “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you’”(1 Corinthians 12:21). Can we move past our denominational silos to think differently about our identity in Christ and our interdependence in the Church? This prayer of Christ directly affects our witness to the world. Our unity can be a four-day-to-four-hour game changer.
One Head. His name is Jesus. He is not just our Savior; he is the Lord of the harvest and our mission leader today. He has strategies to reach every nation, people group and city. He is calling us to radical surrender, to concerted prayer, and to risk-taking obedience. Rather than asking Jesus to fund our strategies and structures, will we listen for his voice and embrace his ways? Will we humble ourselves as leaders and think differently about strategic planning? Jesus would say to us: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:18-19). New vision requires new wineskins, and new names. God is doing a new thing.
One Spirit. Empowerment for global mission comes from the Spirit of God, not from our titles or our budgets. The Church was born at Pentecost when they called out to God for the “gift of the Father.” It wasn’t a better missional strategy that grew the Church from 120 to 3000 people in one day. It was the outpouring of the Spirit of God on seekers that drew the nations gathered in Jerusalem. We won’t go from four days to four hours by better marketing. We desperately need the empowerment of the Spirit of God today to renew the Church for her mission challenges and assignments. There are churches in the slums of Nairobi and the condo towers of Beijing who are crying out to God for his Spirit’s empowerment in mission and they are experiencing amazing community transformation. Wherever the Church is calling out to the Father in prayer, he is present with them and transforming lives. Citywide prayer for a citywide harvest is still God’s mission plan.
One Mission. God’s mission, the Missio Dei, is most fully expressed in Christ’s incarnational life, death, resurrection and restoration of all things. Our call is to join this mission by making disciples of all nations. We are all ambassadors of reconciliation in the way of Jesus. God’s mission purpose is “to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Colossians 1:20). We believe the Lord is asking us to think differently about living together on this one mission – locally, nationally and globally.
As we share stories in this Witness about how our teams are living as ambassadors of reconciliation around the world, we pray that the Lord would move us in new ways to live that reality within the Body of Christ in our communities wherever we are. Together, let’s think differently.