What is mission? Purpose? Bringing God’s Kingdom to Earth?
I’ve been pondering these questions lately, and what qualifies something as “evangelism”? Are we here solely to tell people about God, or also to simply enjoy him and be loved by him? Can we tell about him in the ways we live our daily lives, and reflect the Kingdom by the beauty we create?
My boyfriend and I talked about this at length recently after watching Saving Mr. Banks. Through the act of writing and storytelling, a redemptive world was created for not only the writer, but those who read her book and watched the movie inspired by it. The movie with a changed ending created a story of a good father and redeemed a past of pain. That fictional world. whether intended or not, gives its readers and viewers a glimpse of the Kingdom of God. It showed how the world ought to be, and stirs a longing for more.
What if God’s purpose in P.L. Travers was to gift her with the ability to write so that his glory may be put on display? What if Walt Disney’s purpose, who turned her book into a famous movie, was to create “the happiest place on earth” to give a glimpse into another kind of world. One so full of imagination, it reflects Heaven in its uniqueness and excessive joy?
Perhaps God did not create either of them to go out “on mission” and evangelize the world through their spoken words, but to reflect his pleasure in his children, and bring about healing in unusual ways.
These are just questions and ideas, not theological conclusions, so don’t get crazy with me. Yet it came to mind again because of a conversation I had this week on the street.
Every Thursday is street ministry with Broken Hearts, where we go out onto the streets of Hollywood in the middle of the night to love the overlooked and tell the marginalized about the hope of life in Jesus. In my paradigm, and many others, this is true evangelism. We build relationships and speak about ways of getting free from drugs, out of homelessness, and redeemed from prostitution.
For the past two weeks I’ve been talking to a man who’s been homeless for years. This week, he was passionately discussing drug dealers, the world of cocaine addiction, and the countless ways he’s seen how destructive it is.
He’s been clean from drugs for 20 years. What struck me when he told me about deciding one day to go cold turkey from crack was this: the catalyst for his change was sleeping on a bench and listening to a musical group (I don’t remember which one, some old school jazz or doo wop or something like that). The music inspired him so much in that moment that a desire to do something like them, and aspire to be a musician, changed his perspective. That instance of imagination and beauty, and a glimpse at what could be changed his life. He got off of drugs right then and there.
No one told him drugs were bad or suggested rehab. No one told him Jesus could heal him or offered him food. God used music (one of my personal favorite creations by God) to save his life.
On recent reflection, I too would say that some of my most life-changing moments have come through listening to worship music, reading a book, journaling, watching a movie, in church, and listening to people’s stories.
I observe that God is limitless in his imagination and anointing of creation to change lives. I’ve heard as many stories like the smell of a flower bringing someone back to faith in God as I have testimonies of being “evangelized”.
Consider the question I’m asking myself right now: Is it possible that some of our greatest gifts to spread the Kingdom of God and reflect Heaven are being squelched so that we can tell people about Jesus in the only way we’ve been taught is acceptable? Could we actually change the world more through our joys and passions than through our works? Might “the chief end of man to glorify God by enjoying Him” be what ignites a passion in others to do the same and surrender their lives to Christ?