Missional people are never short of things to do. When we look at the Great Commission it tells us there’s lots to do. It can be summed up in two great imperatives: Go, Do. Places to go – all over the world. Things to do - make disciples, baptise them, teach them.
But the sound of the Gospel is not Do-be-Do-be-Do. It’s more like Be-do-Be-do-Be. The Gospel is all about faith, not works, and that includes how we preach it as well as what we preach. So to prevent missional people sliding into works-based activism in their enthusiasm to preach a grace-centred gospel it is helpful to remember that the Great Commission stands on the shoulders of the Great Covenant.
It was in Genesis 12:1-3 that God told us that all the families of the earth would be blessed through the seed of Abraham (Christ, and the multitude of descendants flowing from him). This promise was formally ratified in a covenant in Genesis 15. But it was all about what God would do, not about what Abraham must do. In this context we read that Abraham believed, and it was his faith in God’s ability to save the world that was counted as righteousness.
The focus of the Great Covenant was the list of awesome “I will’s”. Not what we must do, but what he will do. There still are two imperatives in the grammar of Genesis 12:1-3. But rather than the “Go – Do” structure of the Great Commission, the Great Covenant revolves around “Go – Be.”
“Go,” Abraham is told. Leave the lifestyle and loyalties of home. He was a man with a mission. But if he was to arrive at “Mission Accomplished”, the key was not what he was to do, but what he was to be. After a series of promises that God says he will do, the second imperative is literally “Be a blessing”. Not do or say things that bless people, but be a blessing. It is through who we are and by what he will do that all the families on earth will be blessed. As we shall see next time, this does not mean we are to do nothing. But the sound of a life of faith is Be-Do-Be rather than Do-Be-Do.
It was to be the presence of a transformed life, one that had been radically separated from the old way of life of his fathers, newly situated as a Being in a broken world, that God would use to fulfill his missional objective of bringing blessing to all the families of the earth. It starts and ends with who God is and what he does. But in the middle, it does not start with what we do but with what we be!