Getting to missional requires a new way of seeing. It is not seeing something new, but seeing anew what is already in place.
In the book The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes tells his trusted friend Watson, ¢â‚¬Å“You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear.” Too often we see, but do not observe the work of Christ. Getting to missional requires a change in perspective.
In John 1:29-42, we get the opportunity to hear John the Baptist’s version of the baptism of Jesus. John the Beloved tells us in verses 29-34:
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ¢â‚¬Å“Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! He is the one I was talking about when I said, ¢â‚¬ËœA man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.¢â‚¬â„¢ I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.¢â‚¬ Then John testified, ¢â‚¬Å“I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. I didn¢â‚¬â„¢t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ¢â‚¬ËœThe one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.¢â‚¬â„¢ I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.¢â‚¬
As I was preparing to preach this last week, I was flabbergasted that I had not noticed this before. I’ve read John 1 many, many times, but never noticed John tell us that he only recognized Jesus as the Messiah when the dove lit upon Him after baptism. God had told John that he would show him the Messiah through the Holy Spirit alighting on the right person, in this case his cousin Jesus. Now the big question I have is this: “Did John assume the Holy Spirit was in the form of the dove?” Could the dove have been an early Jewish symbol of the Holy Spirit? D. A. Carson in his commentary on The Gospel according to John (Pillar New Testament Commentary) series says nothing is definite. It just seems John saw the Spirit in the form of a dove and knew Jesus was the Messiah. He saw with different eyes.
Over the next few posts I want to talk about missional seeing. I understand Hirsch and Ford have a discussion about this in their new book Right Here, Right Now: Everyday Mission for Everyday People (Shapevine). I’ve not read it, though it is on my kindle, so this is not a repeat of their thoughts. It will hopefully be a discussion of learning to see differently. Seeing is believing. But believing in seeing as well.
Len Sweet, in his book The Three Hardest Words: In the World to Get Right, says this: The key word here is not ¢â‚¬Å“join¢â‚¬ but ¢â‚¬Å“join in.¢â‚¬ It¢â‚¬â„¢s more than a matter of ¢â‚¬Å“joining¢â‚¬ a church. It¢â‚¬â„¢s not about getting people to choose to join what a church is doing. It¢â‚¬â„¢s about getting people to join in what God is already doing. The Bible is less a book about what we are to do than a book about what God has already done and is now doing, and how we can join in God¢â‚¬â„¢s ¢â‚¬Å“doings.¢â‚¬ Too often we don’t see what God is doing. We can’t join Him in His work if we can’t see it. Let’s change that.