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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"Godspeed: Making Christ's Mission Your Own"

TITLE: Godspeed: Making Christ's Mission Your Own
AUTHOR: Britt Merrick
PUBLISHER:  Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook Publishers, 2012, (256 pages).

The title of this book is intriguing. Together with the front cover, it suggests three things. Firstly, it paints an extreme sense of urgency. Secondly, it shows us that it needs to be done in God's speed, rather than man's rush. Thirdly, it leads ultimately to a destination. The subtitle suggests a fourth thing: Making Christ's mission our own. These sets the tone for the entire book.

Pastor Britt Merrick begins by asking readers to reflect about what is missing in the life of American churches. Many people have criticized churches either as hypocrites, as homophobic, as judgmental people. Such criticisms are understandable as some in the American church has embarked upon a pattern that has replaced grace with condemnation, relationships with rules, and truth with judgment. In the process, Merrick is convinced that the Church at large has lost sight of the person of Christ. This leads them to lose sight of the missio Christi: The mission of Christ. The premise of the book is as follows:

We need a right understanding of what mission is all about, to live something bigger than ourselves, or our churches, and to grasp a Christianity that will not only change us, but through Christ in us, the world will be changed.

Based on John 20:21, the mission of the Church is to be sent to the world, just like the Father has sent Jesus into the world. Above all, mission is based on a theological foundation of the Triune Godhead. Part One talks about the "Father's mandate" that the word "mission" is more significant than the word "missions." The latter represents something distant, while the former suggests something more active and intentional. Merrick argues that the Christian's entire life is to be the "mission." Thus, mission is not about people, but mission begins, continues, and ends with God. Through the Father, one is sent to people, and God reaches people through people. Merrick makes an interesting observation about Jesus choosing his disciples, while the typical Jewish rabbi were chosen by their students. This is significant because the calling of God means a radical response. The idea of calling is given a lengthy treatment to hone in its importance.Our lives are to reveal the Christ in us. We are the fourth missionary of God. The first three is the Triune Godhead. I like the way Merrick calls the Triune God as "Sender, Sent, and Sending."

Part Two describes Jesus being the "Son's Model" of doing Missio Christi. Through the incarnation, one learns to embody the person of Christ in one's character and behaviour to all. Unfortunately, many Christians have either cocooned themselves by retreating from the world, or to combat the very people we are called to love, or to conform ourselves to the ways of the world. Incarnational Christians are called to worship God and to witness to people. They are to seek people out, even if it means leaving one's comfort zones. They are to be prepared to touch people, no matter how uncomfortable it is. They are to be agents for freedom, to liberate people from slavery, announce justice and good news to all. They are to restore generosity even for the undeserving.

Part Three describes the Holy Spirit's ministry through renewal, intentionality, and to let the Spirit transforms us to all things new. Let the Good news make us new. A transformed people of God will turn the world upside down through kingdom living. Merrick speaks about the kingdom helpfully in "three tenses: historical (past), practical (present), and eschatological (future)." We are between two arrivals of Christ, living in the now and the not-yet. Finally, in prayer, we practise the missio Christi to battle the spiritual forces of darkness, and to do the reaping in God's strength.

My Thoughts

I am fascinated by how Britt Merrick is able to be so creative in his presentation of the gospel, of God's mission through the Triune Godhead. The stories are plentiful. The passions are visible. Most of all, the simple point of God's mission is laid bare for all to see. I like the way Merrick is able to present theological truths of the Trinity, the Kingdom, the Mission of God is such a clear framework. There is not much to critique in this book, except minor ones like the use of certain quotations, like the oft-quoted St Francis of Assisi words that put works above words. It sounds nice, but the gospel needs to be both works and words.

This book is a preacher's guidebook on how to preach the mission of God. It is every Christian's guide not just for mission work, but for the work of mission to be planted in the hearts of every believer. It is also a book that can trigger off the alarm clock among those of us who are sleeping through life. May we all develop a character that is Godlike, a life that is Godly, and a pace that is Godspeed.

Ratin: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by David C. Cook Publishers and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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