The future seems to outsmart the best of us. No one could have foreseen what 2020 would be like. So I refuse any temptation to prognosticate about this year. But I can speak to how we can face it. Let’s start with a question: What’s your mission for 2021? To have a mission means you can’t be hunkering down, in survival mode, or just getting by. Instead, you are on a quest that focuses your heart and your life. Here’s how I describe my mission for 2021, a mission big enough to capture any man’s heart. It divides into 4 points.
Point #1: Jesus had a mission.
Jesus knew exactly what He was to do with His life. When He began His ministry of teaching and healing, He went into his hometown synagogue and quoted a passage from the Old Testament to describe His mission (Luke 4:14-21). Here’s my rough paraphrase of what He quoted — “God’s powerful Spirit rests upon me and has set me apart. Here is the mission given to me: I will announce good news to the poor, heal those with crushed hearts, free those in captivity, and release those trapped in darkness” (Isaiah 61:1-2)
And Jesus carried out that mission with stunning impact. He taught, healed, and expelled demons, inciting awe and wonder wherever He went. His Father’s kingdom was now near, and Jesus called everyone to join that kingdom by following Him. Ultimately, He gave His life as the climax to this mission.
Point #2: Jesus carried out His mission through the Holy Spirit.
The gospels clearly note that Jesus did not muscle His way through the mission. He lived in need of constant empowering by the Holy Spirit. We forget that Jesus was a man, just like us. Most believers may assent to the creedal statement “fully God, fully man,” but honestly we feel Jesus to be fully God and only half-human, almost like some remote demigod. How many times have I heard men imply something like this: “Well, that’s Jesus. That’s not me.”
We also forget that the whole point of Jesus’ mission was to make us like Himself! Remember, He is the original archetype for humanity. He is the Second Adam, the sculpture into which we are all to be carved. The way He lived is the way we are to start living now. And how did He live?
In the power of the Holy Spirit (see Luke 4:14).
His baptism in water by John coalesced with His baptism by the Spirit. Jesus’ ministry was Spirit-engineered, Spirit-led, and Spirit-powered.
Point #3: Jesus gives His mission to us.
Jesus summed it up this way: “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21). The Father sent Jesus on this mission. Now He turns to us and says: “I have set you free. Now go and do this for everyone around you.” He hands His mission over to us. It’s a huge privilege — and challenge. What does this mean for us practically?
For me, it means letting go of my agendas for each day and being open to the needs of those I encounter. Some may need empathy and a listening ear, others may need healing prayer, and still others may need a word of kingdom encouragement. Further, I need to continue to release my disordered attachments, whatever my heart clings to for life besides Jesus.
Point #4: Jesus gives His Spirit to us.
Jesus’ resurrection precipitated a new era in history where the Spirit that He experienced could now become our experience. Let me repeat that amazing idea this way:
The same Spirit that was at work in Jesus is at work in us.
And we are to do the same works that He did, even greater works (John 14:12). To begin to believe this, even in some stumbling way, is to open up vast realms of possibility all around us. For the Spirit is always up to something in folks around us. We are to listen to Him and then participate with Him in His work. This changes the whole climate of the mission. It’s not a burden. It’s an adventure.
Walking in this way, I am cultivating a relationship with Holy Spirit as a distinct person, with His own personality and nuances, seeking to listen as to what He might be up to in any situation. As He is the instigator of powerful works, I am beginning to see difficult situations as a place to watch mountains move.
This is my mission for 2021: To walk in Jesus’ mission in the power of the Spirit.
What about you? What’s your mission for 2021?
PS. To learn more about how to find your mission, check out the work I do with spiritual direction here.
Photo by Matt-Sclarandis on Wunderstock (license)