"mission of God"

You Won't be Able to Discern God's Actions...

...if you don't know what...

...God cares about.

This morning I was reading a wonderfully short blog by Scott McKnight, entitled "The OT's Most Important Command"* It got me thinking on a couple levels. 

Leaning on the work of Walter Brueggemann (and who wouldn't?), McKnight reveals a little know fact in the Hebrew language. There are no adverbs. Brueggemann explains, "I’ll give you a little Hebrew grammar.... Biblical Hebrew has no adverbs. The way it expresses the intensity of the verb, it repeats the verb. So if it says give and you want to say “really give” it says “give give” right in the sentence–”give give.”

This little lesson in grammar is not without a point. So if one wants to find a high priority command, look for lots of verbs repeated. With this in mind, Brueggemann says the most stressed command in the Old Testament is not what people might think.

How about,

  1. "Love the LORD your God..."? Nope
  2. "You shall have no other God's before me"? Nu-uh.
  3. "You shall work on six days, and the seventh is a sabbath to the LORD"? No.
  4. "Beat your swords into plowshares"? Not that either.

So before I reveal what McKnight wrote from Brueggeman, let me ask if we really know God well enough to share God's priorities? As a missional conviction, we need to be in mission where God has initiated mission. We look in our neighborhoods, along our sidewalks, where we work and where our kids go to school. We hope to see God active in our worshiping communities and active outside them as well. But we can be blind to what God is doing because we are seeking the actions of God in the wrong places.

If we know God's priorities, might we discern God in action in those places where God's priorities are made manifest?

Missional discernment needs people who know God. Prayerful, reflective, spiritual people who seek the heart of God in a living, personal relationship.

But missional discernment also needs to know about God. To have learned about, acted upon, engaged in the biblical narrative revealing God in action, let's us know this God we are seeking to know deeply.

Often I have thought we need to "know God" more than "knowing about God". But I'm rethinking that. Without knowing about God, we might be chasing a relationship with a god of our own creation. We need both knowing, and knowing about.

So, according to Brueggemann, what is the Old Testament's most important command?


Deuteronomy 15

, you get a law about seven years. It’s called the 

Year of Release

. It says that at the end of seven years, if a poor person owes you money, cancel the debt." As Brueggemann explains, "[The law] says to not be hard-hearted (or tight fisted) about granting poor people space to live their lives, because you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord God brought you out into the good place." Scott McKnight adds, "So grammatically, the Old Testament scripture with the 

most emphasis

 as in “you must must must must 


 do this” is a passage about forgiving debts."

God cares about releasing debts. This is big. Very big. And it let's us know where God's heart is. 





Wonder No More...

Ever wonder about the hidden life of the small track speedway? I never did. Now I do. Sort of....

In fact, now I think about it in less than charitable ways. I know as a missionary to this culture, I have to find common ground and a way to engage in what God is already doing. God is present. But this will be a theological and anthropological adventure.

I have not yet been fully introduced to this alien culture. Growing up in the suburbs of Phoenix, our racing experiences were through the Wide World of Sports (that shows my age!). Never in all that time, did I ever see what happened once the crowd had gone home.

Last Sunday night, our local speedway had its delightful, "Trailer Trash Races." However, our job was not to enjoy the race, but to clean up afterward. My son's baseball team was cleaning up the trash each Sunday morning after the Saturday night races as a way to raise money for next year's baseball tournament season. Being environmentally responsible, we'd separate the plastic from the trash for recycling. But both plastic and trash told a story.

Plastics: why don't people finish what they purchase? So many soda and water bottles were still nearly full. Furthermore, the 85 oz "beer buckets" were usually empty. But some were not as empty as one would wish. The spray and drips of old beer kinda made one long for a shower.

Trash: The real joy was in the weekly competition of counting disposable diapers in the bleachers. The first week was three. The second week was four. But the last two weeks were only two and one respectively. With all the noise of the roaring engines, why would there be babies there?

Anyway, looking at the detritus, the debris, and the unfinished treasures of the speedway filled me with a strange desire to keep learning about this alien culture residing within in my own community. As anthropologists dig through the dumps of ancient civilizations past, they find insights to the culture under study. Going through ancient Mayan trash, or the garbage of ancient Jerusalem might be better - at least their beer buckets would have lost their stench over the eons.

But the missiological pursuit will continue - but this time, I'll do it from the top side of the bleachers. And I will finish my soda and throw it in the recycling bin.