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Date: June 11, 2017 (Trinity Sunday) 1. Texts: Genesis 1:1-2:4a; Ps. 8; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; Matthew 28:16-20. 2. Subject: Christology. 3. Topic: Christology as the foundation for both ecclesiology and missiology. 4. Aim: challenge, educate. 5. Proposition: “The identity of Christ determines the identity of the Church.”

 

MISSION, AT LAST!

Look! It’s finally happened! One of the central texts on mission has appeared in the lectionary! Every preacher across the entire country can now legitimately and passionately preach on the profound possibilities of mission. This is a great day! Then—it had to happen on Trinity Sunday. Oh, great. Trinity Sunday is that day when preachers are practically pressured into explaining the inexplicable mystery of Trinitarian Christianity. And, since almost no one understands Trinity in the slightest, the demand to preach about it nearly overwhelms every other possible topic. Unless you have a preacher who is immersed in mission. Then, suddenly, you have before you the possibilities of preaching both Trinitarian Christianity and mission, both on the same day. Here’s how this is going to work. Contrary to both Jews and Muslims—and contrary to Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Unitarians—we Christians understand that God exists as Trinity, three divine Persons but one God. We understand that God is and always has been God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. We know that God exists as the Creator outside time and space, as the Saviour in time and space and as the Counsellor throughout time and space. This has meant that what we say of God the Creator, we have to say about God the Saviour and about God the Counsellor. If the Creator is loving, so must the Saviour and Counsellor be. If the Counsellor is ever-present, so must the Saviour and the Creator be. Since we Christians are stuck inside time and space, what we know about God we really know because of God the Son. Jesus, who is the Christ, the Page 2 of 3 -Christology, ecclesiology, missiologyAnointed and Incarnate God inside time and space, really shows us who God is. Here’s some of the things we know about God through Jesus. God is sacrificially loving. That is, God is loving and love always means some level of sacrifice. Christ gave up the intimacy of the Trinity in order to be born inside time and space—that’s a huge sacrifice. Jesus gave up his life in order that we might be reconciled to God in love—again a huge sacrifice. Jesus himself once said, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” 1 In part love means sacrificing one’s own plans, hopes and desires for the sake of the beloved. Because of Jesus, we know God is sacrificially loving. We also know that God is incarnational. This means that by nature God seeks to make himself visible and knowable inside time and space. The most significant proof of this is Jesus himself. He and the Father are one. He is the embodiment of God inside time, space and human experience. But we also see God embodied in creation itself, in its orderliness, creativity and need for harmonious and balanced living. We see the Trinity reflected in our existence as human bodies, souls and spirits and in the relationships amongst spouses and God. God is reflected in his creation and primarily in Christ. God is incarnational. God is also missional. Now, mission comes from the Latin and Greek words to send. God sent the Christ into the world. Jesus sent the Spirit into the Church. Jesus sent the disciples out ahead of him and even gave the command to go.2 God is missional. Now the Church is the Body of Christ. Therefore, the Church embodies the life, content and ministries of Christ. So, the characteristics and identity of Christ inform and guide the characteristics and identity of Christ. The Church must therefore be loving, incarnational and missional. We don’t really have an option about this. Jesus has the power and the authority to define the Church because it is his body—the Church does not belong to itself. Since we choose to love Jesus, we must sacrifice our own thoughts, plans and definitions for the sake of what Jesus wants us to be. As God the Father is, so is God the Son. As God the Son is, 1 John 15:13. 2 John 28:18-20. Page 3 of 3 -Christology, ecclesiology, missiologyso is God the Holy Spirit. As God is, so is the Church to be. The Church is loving, incarnational and missional. All three of these identities are linked to one another. The world will only know that the Church as loving as we embody and proclaim that love in real time. This is incarnational living. That incarnational love will actually only be visible and tangible to the world if we go out into the world. It will never be good enough merely to keep our love inside the four walls of our church buildings. Love is not love if it is reserved for only those we already like. Love sacrifices the comfort of our boundaries for the sake of those outside the faith. We must go—go to our families, our friends and our communities—if love is to be genuinely incarnational. We must be missional, sent by God out into the world so that his love might be incarnated in our lives. We could go on to reflect on other characteristics of God, but the point is 100% clear: our lives are to embody the life of God inside time, space and human experience. We disciples reflect who God is in our lives and how we live. As our communities watch the Church minister, they are seeing the hands, feet and voice of God active in their midst. The trinitarian God is mirrored in the lives and ministries of the Church and Christ’s disciples. So, I wouldn’t get too worried about trying to completely and accurately define Trinitarianism. What really matters is that Christ is the centre of our experience and understanding of God. What really matters is that as God is loving, incarnational and missional, so is the Church to be, both as a community and as individual disciples. There you have it: Trinity Sunday is actually about mission. Maybe we should have a subtitle for it—Mission Sunday. After all, Trinity Sunday will only be genuinely meaningful when the Church accepts its divine identity as sacrificially loving, as actually incarnational and as intentionally missional. Now we can start to talk about just how we’re going to implement all this inside our time and space. AMEN.