Most often our thinking precedes our acting. If we want to change our behavior we must change our minds.
If we see missional habits and rhythms as important then making them a reality in our lives begins in our patterns of thinking. Ralph Waldo Emereson once wrote,
“Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”
Thoughts are powerful. We underestimate the power our thinking has to dictate our behavior. Scripture speaks a lot about the importance of our inner life and the significance of our thoughts:
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.Romans 12:2
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.Philippians 4:8
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.Luke 6:45
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.Colossians 3:1-2
What we think matters. What we think DOES affect our behavior. Said a little differently: habits start in your head. Life change necessitates changing your mind. Now, how does our responsibility to live on mission affect how we should think? I think in two areas: how we think about God and how we think about ourselves.
How we think about God
God is a missionary God. He intervenes in our history for our good. From Genesis to Revelation, from creation to consummation, we see a God who governs in the affairs of men (to quote Benjamin Franklin). Immediately after Adam and Eve’s fall into sin we see God intervene and cover them with animal skins. We see God through every age send representatives: judges, prophets, priests and kings. These messengers all culminate in the arrival of God’s Son sent into the world to save sinners!
Jesus said it plainly, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45
He left the camp, bearing our reproach (See Hebrews 13). God is a missionary God. He initiates our reconciliation. He initiates the manifestation of His glory and it will fill the entire earth (Habakkuk 2:14). If we are to think rightly and missionally, we must think of our God, the God who sends us and the God who has sent His Son, as a Missionary God.
How we think about ourselves
Followers of Jesus are called to be a Missionary People. We must see ourselves as ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20), witnesses (Acts 1:8), salt and light (Matthew 5:12-14), and declarers of His praise (1 Peter 2:9). We are all sent by God (Matthew 28:18-20). We are all called to make disciples. As it has been said, “Christianity is not a spectator sport.”
Every follower of Jesus is called to participate in the mission of God on earth. We are to be vessels useful to the master (2 Timothy 2:20-21).
Missions is not just for professionals. It is for the everyday Christian to take part in the everyday mission of our Missionary God.
So let’s start thinking rightly about God and ourselves. Let’s stop coasting through life like God’s mission will be carried-out by someone else (like a pastor or missionary). Our Missionary God is calling all of us to participate in His mission. Will we answer with “Here I am, send me”? It all begins with out thoughts.
Habits start in our heads. Let’s start thinking missionally today.