Today I am on a 200 mile bicycle race in Alaska. So, in the spirit of the bicycle and mission I offer the following from Len Hjalmarson:
Cycle riders know that there is more than direction and velocity in keeping a cycle moving: it requires balance, and balance is a dynamic reality. Stop moving, and the bicycle and rider end up on the pavement. It’s the same with discipleship and mission: they exist in a dynamic relationship of motion and energy.
And it’s very different on paper than in reality! The knowledge that comes from riding is experiential knowledge – physical and personal. It’s the kind of knowledge that exists in the body before it exists in the mind. Too often in our culture we rely on a strange kind of knowing that is divorced from practice. The other kind of knowledge, personal knowledge, is the kind that God designed for us to live in, and it’s why the Great Commandment appeals to all parts of the person.
Cycle riders know that riding requires that level of integration. You won’t last long unless your head and hands work together. It’s a centering movement growing out of a dynamic relationship between balance and forward motion. Lose the center, and get out of balance, and the bicycle falls. It’s the same with discipleship and mission: they exist in an integrated motion, a rhythm of life.
The traction for a bicycle rider comes from the rear wheel. The chain drives the rear wheel, and the contact between the wheel and the surface move the bicycle forward. Mission works the same way. Mission powers discipleship. If the wheel of mission stops turning, discipleship becomes distorted into an internal “self-improvement” reality. Every expression of discipleship eventually feeds back into God’s mission of redemption. But remember, this is mission much more broadly seen than merely evangelism and conversion. God is concerned with all of life, and mission includes justice. “He has shown you, O man, what is good….”
Direction for the bicycle comes from the front wheel. Discipleship gives mission a telos – a purpose and end goal. We share the good news so that people can know Christ, and have life in his name. This is much more than membership in a local church. Jesus did not say, “I came that they might have church, and that more abundantly!” Rather, the goal of mission is to bring healing and redemption to all creation. Discipleship, then, imparts the attitudes, relationships, and skills necessary to live a life of wholeness in the world. Connected to Christ and in harmony with one another, we are a new social reality: a sign and a foretaste of the kingdom of God.