Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Putting Your Whole Self In

Do you remember (of course you do!) the children's song, "The Hokey Pokey"? Yes, a favorite at every skating rink in America because it's an action song, and action songs on skates don't work very well. But, as you remember, you put various parts of your body "in" and then pull them "out" of the circle, then clap along to the refrain, "That's what it's all about!" While I could ponder whether or not the Hokey Pokey really is what it's all about, what I'm more interested in today is the last verse...one that usually went like this: "You put your whole self in..."

Put your whole self in...that would be a good mission statement or action statement for the church. You put your whole self in...to the kingdom of God. You put your whole self in...to the cause of changing the world. You put your whole self in...to doing acts of kindness and relieving human suffering. You put your whole self in...to mission. That's really what it means to participate in the fourth of the five practices: risk-taking mission and service.

All too often, we have reduced "mission" to writing a check to send a missionary somewhere around the world. (We don't even have to put out that much effort anymore, because most mission boards will automatically deduct your monthly contribution from your checking account!) Or we reduce "mission" to bringing in canned goods, school supplies, or winter coats for donation to "the needy." And while those are good and worthwhile (and needed!) actions, they are hardly risk-taking. It is not a risk to write a check or buy an extra can of soup at the store. To truly be involved in mission involves putting our "whole self" in—taking a risk, putting ourselves on the line.

Now, this doesn't have to be going to a far-off land (though it might involve that). It might be as simple as crossing the street toward that neighbor you don't like very much and offering to help with a landscaping project. It might look like going to the inner city of a nearby town and helping in a community center or soup kitchen. It might mean going to another state and working in the midst of impoverished people, knowing you can't change their circumstances, but you can make a small difference for the week you are there. It might mean doing whatever is needed to offer a cup of cold water to someone who is thirsty (both literally and metaphorically). But the point is this: risk-taking mission involves ME, not just my checkbook. Risk-taking service changes ME, not just my account balance. Risk-taking mission and service means I am willing to be touched by "the least of these" and transformed by the God who calls us into mission in the first place.

Are you ready and willing to "put your whole self in"?

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