This article is from the September/October 2023 issue of Outreach magazine. Subscribe today!
As missional disciples, our hearts will thrive to the extent that we understand this paradoxical reality: God does not need us to accomplish his mission, yet, mysteriously, God has chosen to only accomplish his mission in partnership with us. It is because partnership is God’s chosen way that we now have the privilege of becoming “God’s fellow workers” (1 Cor. 3:9).
Embracing the reality of God’s partnership with us can have a profound and healing impact on our missional hearts in at least three ways.
- Personal Transformation
It helps us to remember that God intends for us to be transformed as we transform the world with him. This reorients my missional heart. God doesn’t just have a loving agenda for the world; he has a loving agenda for me. His loving challenge is for missional disciples not only to advance the kingdom around us but also within us.
As we engage in mission—holding tight to Christ as our companion and empowerment—we have an opportunity to surrender to Christ as he shapes us more into his image. This is the dynamic picture that Jesus taught of what truly successful mission looks like: “Abide in me, and you will bear much fruit” (John 15).
- Relationship with God
God has chosen to partner in mission with us because God likes us. This delights my missional heart. God doesn’t just love you; God likes you. He delights in friendship with you. He is eager for any and every way to spend time with you and to deepen relationship with you—including by doing mission together.
I love the very first reason listed in Mark 3:14 for why Jesus appointed the twelve apostles: “He appointed twelve that they might be with him.” Yes, the apostles were appointed to preach the good news, heal the sick and cast out demons. But first, Jesus appointed the apostles to be with him.
As you engage in mission, Jesus longs for companionship with you on the way—to comfort you in your disappointments, meet you in your pain, provide for all your needs, melt you with his unconditional love, and surprise you with joy as you bear supernatural fruit in his name.
- Perfection Not Required
God chooses to partner with us because his power is made perfect in our weakness. This brings unspeakable relief to my missional heart. I will do my best, but I need not be perfect.
There is a mysterious way in which God is uniquely glorified as he works in and through imperfect vessels like you and me. For this reason, God has chosen to place the treasure of his gospel in human jars of clay “to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Cor. 4:7). God will continue to advance his mission even in and through my weaknesses and mistakes. What a relief.
As you allow the reality of God’s chosen partnership to settle more deeply, may you experience reorientation, delight and relief in your own missional heart. May you, too, experience your belovedness more deeply as you engage in mission with God.
Michelle T. Sanchez has served in various discipleship and evangelism leadership roles for more than a decade. She’s the author of Color-Courageous Discipleship and God’s Beloved Community.