Genesis chapter 1 is a foundational text for life. It declares to us that the mission of God in the world is, and always has been, creating the sort of environment in which life is not overwhelmed but can flourish. “Let there be...” is not so much an order to be obeyed as a permission-giving, a liberating from chaos. What emerges reveals something of the nature of the One whose mission this is: light springs forth, and declares that God is Light; solid ground is drawn as distinct from turbulent seas, and declares that God is the Rock on which we stand, even in the face of turmoil. And that the gift of life is an invitation to participate in that mission: in creating the sort of environment in which life is not overwhelmed but can flourish, and so declaring in our very being the Being of the One in whose likeness we are created.
Therefore all that we do, having the potential to create the sort of environment in which life is not overwhelmed but can flourish, has the potential to be an expression of mission. Mission is not something in addition to our life: life is meant to be missional in every part.
And so our lives are supposed to be a living illustration of life being liberated from chaos. This is an ongoing mission: because we are always in the process of emerging out of chaos (just as light is always in the process of emerging out of the Big Bang, or cosmic explosion, of God’s declaration “Let there be light!”); and because chaos is always in the process of overwhelming us (as it had overwhelmed the earth at the ‘start’ or beginning of our Story, and will do until the ‘end’ or completion of our Story).
So here is a question:
What threatens to overwhelm you?
In the environment of my home, the constant rising-up of dirt and dust threatens to overwhelm me. Seriously. In the environment of the digital revolution, the tsunami of information and the siren-call of screens threatens to overwhelm me.
I need to put in place structures that order the environment in such a way as to allow life to flourish and chaos to be held at bay (just as the first humans were to tend the garden). So attending to the laundry and the vacuuming are missional activities, and when someone comes into my house and finds an ordered environment rather than a chaotic environment, this speaks of life as God imagines it to be. Likewise, setting boundaries on my screen-time allows facebook to be a life-affirming environment (keeping in contact with dear friends) while not allowing other relationships (principally my wife and children) to be overwhelmed by – or mediated through – screens. Such an environment is not static – we can never say, “I have set the boundaries; they are in place” – but requires continual (though not constant) work.
We need to see all of our life as missional, as responding to God’s invitation to participate in his mission. All of life has immeasurable worth; all of life is in need of liberation from chaos.
What threatens to overwhelm you? How might you create the sort of environment in which life is not overwhelmed but can flourish?