It was like a scene from a Stephen King movie. Twelve men huddled together on a dark beach behind a leader. A few torches shed light onto a horrific scene. Running toward them was a howling, bleeding, naked man. “What do you want from me?” the man screamed at the leader.
The leader, Jesus, calmly confronted the demon-possessed man (Mark 5:1-20). He and the disciples had just crossed over the lake at night and were immediately met by this “nude dude in a rude mood.” I picture Jesus fearlessly and passionately challenging this demon-enslaved man as His disciples huddled behind him.
We know the outcome. The demons were cast out. The man appears before Jesus “dressed and in his right mind” (Mark 5:15 NIV). This nameless figure has one natural response: “Can I follow You, Jesus? Let me go with You!” He wants to be with the one who gave him freedom and a new life. But Jesus had other plans. For no apparent reason, Jesus denies his request and sends the man on mission:
“Go home to your own people and tell then how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”Mark 5:19 NIV
Jesus doesn’t send him to another country as a missionary. He doesn’t send him to preach on a street corner. He gives a simple assignment: “Tell your own people how the Lord has had mercy on you.” He sent him back to his own neighborhood, his own circle of family and friends. His mission — to start faith conversations about God’s mercy. This is a wonderful picture of mission. What was the result? Verse 20 tells us:
So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.
The demon-possessed man is a “type” of what happens in our lives. God liberates us from sin, we stand new and fresh in Jesus, we gratefully declare our loyalty to Him, and He sends us on mission. Living on mission is not an option for His disciples. He makes this very clear in John 20:21: “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (also see John 17:18). We are all sent ones.
A mission in its simplest terms is an “assignment.” I believe there is a macro mission and a micro mission that God assigns us to do. God’s macro mission is the big cosmic plan for redemption — uniting all things in Christ (Ephesians 1:10). He invites us to join Him in this macro mission by bringing kingdom values into the everyday places of our lives — our work, neighborhoods, apartments, or families. His micro mission is exemplified in the demon-freed man — we’re sent to start faith conversions with a neighbor.
Living on mission means entering the worlds of where we live, work, or play and inviting our adult friends to walk with us as we walk with Jesus. As I walk in the world of adults, I’ve learned some lessons about living on mission. One lesson is: We shine Christ’s light in dark places.
Bringing light to dark places is important in the world of adults. Adults want to know if faith makes a difference. They want it demonstrated; they don’t want to be passive listeners of a message. Our macro mission to bring light to dark places goes back to the Garden.
The “garden” passages in Genesis 1-3 tell us that we’re created in the “image of God.” Living as lights means radiating this image into a dark world. Being an image-bearer is more than a theological statement — its a vocation. Author and historian N.T. Wright states: “It means being called to reflect into the world the creative and redemptive love of God.” This is macro mission at its best.
Living as an image-bearer reminds us how ancient rulers would place statues of themselves in the distant countries to remind the subject people who was ruling them. In the same way, “God has placed his own image, human beings, into his world, so that the world can see who the ruler is.”
You are I are those image-bearers! Into the adult routines of workplace, neighborhoods, or hobbies, God has placed his image (us!), showing what it means to be citizens of a new kingdom. Disciples are those who are being transformed to the image of Christ, living on mission, shining His light in dark places.
Want to find out more of what it means to live on mission in both a macro and a micro way? How do we practice love rooted in place? What does it mean to take one step at a time in living on mission? How do we start gospel conversations with other adults?
This blog is an excerpt from my book Walk With Me: Simple Principles for Everyday Disciplemaking on Moody Publishing (moodypublishers.com). When we invite people to walk with us as we walk with Jesus, we invite them to live on mission. Walk With Me is packed with biblical principles, real-life stories, and practical how-tos to help us live on mission.
We must live as His disciples in the everyday routines and conversations of life, pushing back the darkness and bringing his light to our relational settings. Check out Walk With Me (moodypublishers.com) to see how this can become a reality in your life.