by Rose Dowsett
Amen! This truly is a bad question, one which should never have been
posed. Authentic mission and discipleship demands complete integration
between what we say (proclamation and word), what we do (actions), and
who we are (character), individually and in community. Why? Here are
First, it is embedded in the most fundamental statement about human
beings: that we are made in the image of the Triune God. Our calling is
to reflect him as Creator, Sustainer, Judge, and Savior, being visual
images so that people can say, “So this is what God is like!” This
cannot be words alone, for the Word was made flesh, not dropped to earth
as a manuscript. Mission must include words, of course, but demands
more than that. God demonstrates total integration of word, deed, and
character. So must we.
Second, it is the pattern Jesus set throughout his ministry, and
commanded us to follow. See Luke 4:16-21, and its fulfillment throughout
the four Gospels. Matthew 28:16-20, the Great Commission, cannot be
separated from the Great Commandment of Matthew 22: 37-39. Commandment
and Commission are not in antithesis, but belong together. Loving God
and our neighbor is more than words.
Third, it is the example and the teaching of the apostles. They healed
as well as taught. The Epistles teach not only what to believe in order
“to be saved,” but also how to live, and how that transformed way of
living as well as articulating the gospel in words changes communities.
Fourth, it is the testimony of church history, from the profound
missionary impact of early Christians as they cared for plague victims,
through the holistic witness and service of the monastic orders, to the
modern missionary movement with its outreach through education,
medicine, agriculture, and ameliorating the effects of poverty and
injustice. The message of love has been given credibility through care
and compassion in very visible and practical ways.
Yes, we need words. If we don’t, then we have little more than humanist
kindness. But we also need actions to give wings to our words, and to be
transformed so as to demonstrate what it means to be reconciled with
one another as well as with God. This is the DNA of God’s people as they
engage in mission. So, as the marriage service puts it, what God has
joined together, let no one put asunder.
Rose Dowsett is a retired career missionary with OMF
International, having served with her husband in the Philippines, the
U.K., and internationally as a speaker, trainer, and author. She served
as vice chair of the WEA Mission Commission, and also worked on the
Lausanne Cape Town Commitment team.
EMQ, Vol. 48, No. 3, pp. 270-271. Copyright © 2012 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS). All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS.