By Les Henson,
Jesus is our primary example of doing mission. He was willing to identify with humanity, to the extent that he became a human being. “The word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1:14) It is the most spectacular instance of cultural identification in the history of humankind. Since by his incarnation, the Son of God became a first-century Galilean Jew. The Word did not merely become human but became a particular human being in time and place. For Jesus, it meant a Jewish lifestyle with Jewish customs within the context of a Jewish family. He was a living demonstration of the nature and character of God being lived out in Jewish culture. And Jesus said to his disciples, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (Jn. 20:21). These verses hold tremendous implications for all who are called to minister in Australia at the beginning of the third decade of the twenty-first century. It means that we too must incarnate into the culture or cultures God has called us to engage. We must learn the language, the culture, the customs and come to grips with the worldview and identity of the people we engage. That doesn’t mean that we should do so uncritically. Like Jesus, we must do so critically, sensitively, and hopefully, transformationally.
In seeking to make God known, we are not only called as sent ones to proclaim the good news of a God who can be known in Jesus Christs. However, we are also called to be the embodiment; the incarnation of that message we communicate to those to whom God has sent us to minister. You see, the messenger is the message.
When we look at Jesus, we find that he shares his faith in the Father and the good news about himself and the kingdom and reign of God in the most creative and compassionate ways. As he engages the world, he does so relationally and in context in a contextual manner. He never deals with people in the same way twice, but meets them where they are and responds to their need in a meaningful way. If we are to learn to communicate and live out the Gospel of the kingdom in ways that are appropriate to our day and generation. Then we need to re-examine the way Jesus understood his mission and how he related to and engaged people in his own time.