What is the goal of Christian mission? I sometimes feel that some mission activity is more about being validated. Or, and much much worse, the objectification of individuals as “bums on seats”. Without a clear aim, how can Christianity reach out for Jesus?
Maybe mission is about providing people with information about Jesus? Logical, rational, and apologetic discussion on Jesus. And individuals, based on that information, make a decision to follow Jesus or not. I have information about a number of topics, none of which make any difference in my life. If the information does not change me, does not challenge me to change, is that information really the goal of mission? Yes, information is part of the process but it is not the end.
I think the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24) is a good example of what Christianity should aim for in mission: an experience of Jesus. After the two travelled with Jesus, talked to Him, and even had “communion” with Him, their experience is much deeper than any of those things:
Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”Luke 24:31-32
What does the “Jesus experience” feel like? “Our hearts burning within us”. An experience that transcends words and even emotions. A mystical experience of the presence of the Eternal in Jesus:
One definition is that a mystical experience is one in which you feel filled with God’s presence in an intense and unmistakable way. Or you feel “lifted up” from the normal way of seeing things. Or you are simply overwhelmed with the sense of God in a way that seems to transcend your own understanding. …
Needless to say, these experiences are hard to put into words. It’s the same as trying to describe the first time you fell in love, or held your newborn child in your arms, or saw the ocean for the first time. But just because they are difficult to explain doesn’t mean that they’re not real, or authentic.Everyday Mysticism
The problem, for the modern mind, is that an experience can not be quantified. But that is the paradox of Christianity and faith in Jesus. It is about a life more than information. It is about an experience that transforms me and the way I see the world around me.