Missional Grace: The Exchanged Life

Missional Grace:  The Exchanged Life

 Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. – Isaiah 43:31, TNIV

 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” – Galatians 2:20-23

The lighting of a match and the ignition of a fuse will bring to mind of many the popular old television show and (more recently) movie trilogy know as Mission: Impossible.

The show began with IM Agent Jim Phelps playing a tape outlining some serious evil plot to overthrow (or severely hamper) our national security.   Phelp’s and his trained operatives were the only hope to stopping the plot and setting things right.  Of course any counter-plot from the IMF (Impossible Mission Forces) team would be fraught with danger.  So much so that the tape offered the warning that if any members of the team were to be caught or killed, “the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.”

Sometimes, when we think of our missional calling we probably feel like an agent in the Impossible Mission Forces.    

“Your mission, should you chose to accept it, is to undo the disastrous effects of human sin on God’s good creation.” 

Think about that statement for a moment.

What are some of the ways human sin is seen having an adverse impact on individual’s lives?

In what ways do you see human sin impact the larger society and cultures in which we live?

How might living out you call (individually and as a group) undo the impacts of human sin?

No doubt, the challenge seems awesome, overwhelming, and (dare we say it) impossible.  Still, that is our calling.  Quick!  Will you accept the mission?   

“This tape will destruct in five seconds!” 

What we are called to do is completely beyond our potential.  We are not smart enough.  We don’t have the resources needed.  Our plans and programs will never be enough. Still, God calls us.  He has chosen the church to be the vehicle to affect this kind of change.  How can this be?

 In the Gospel of Matthew (19:26) we read these words:  “With God everything is possible.”

What’s at play, here, is not our meager resources (our wisdom, knowledge, experience, ingenuity, finances, resources, etc.)  Rather God’s limitless power is the source from which we work.  It’s not what we bring to God that matters, but what God brings to us.  We work out of the overflow of God’s grace (God’s “fullness” as we read in John 1:16-18). 

On his blog, Mark Robert’s writes:

As believers in Jesus Christ, we have been drafted into the unique mission of God. To be sure, we cannot make reconciliation with God occur. That’s God’s job and he has accomplished it marvelously. Yet He has chosen us to be his agents of reconciliation who share in his mission of healing all creation (2 Cor. 5:18-21). Because we experience intimate fellowship with God through Christ, we are also partners with him in his mission in the world. (emphasis mine)

What we are talking about here is what Hudson Taylor called “The Exchanged Life”.[i]   Hudson was convinced that when a person came to Christ, they become a “new creation.”  Their old identity was put to death and they were born again with a new source for living. 

 Read Galatians 2:20-23.  As a group, outline the “exchanged life” process that Paul is writing about.  Discuss how these verses should impact our sense of calling and missional faithfulness as a individual, congregation, and missional group.

 The concept of “the exchanged life” is also express is Isaiah 40:31.  Most English translations refer to those who wait on the Lord being able to “renew” their strength.  The Hebrew word translated “renew” is ????? chalaph (khaw-laf’) which means to change, substitute, alter, change for better, (and) renew to show newness.  All these words imply the idea of an exchange.  So the verse could also be rendered, “Those who wait on the Lord will exchange their strength for Hthe Lord’s strength.”

 When thinking about the (humanly) impossible idea of undoing “… the disastrous effects of human sin on God’s good creation,” in what ways does this idea of “the exchanged life” give you hope and encouragement?

 In what ways can your group continually (intentionally) remind yourselves that your resource for missional faithfulness comes from God?

[i] From a chapter titled with that phrase in his biography Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor, London: China Inland Mission, 1955, pp. 110–116

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