Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Road to Missional and Working Retail

I'm taking in Mike Frost's new The Road to Missional in preparation for a forthcoming review in Englewood Review of Books. I'll post an update here once it's published.

This is a great and provocative book, definitely the best-presented outline of Christianity as participation in the missio Dei or missio Christi that I've ever picked up. It definitely has me thinking.

First, The Road to Missional has me contemplating a new way of describing Jesus' announcement of God's kingdom. Frost, drawing on David Bosch if I remember right (an author I need to read more), talks about Jesus announcing God's kingdom present in the world, overlapping with it. God's kingdom is here, realized, but not in a way we yet recognize. Or, as Frost says, the world as God desires it and the world as we know it don't "overlap completely." One-to-one correspondence waits for Jesus' return.

Second, then, I'm meditating on the ways in which the kingdom shows through (reality wears through the map) in this mountain valley I call home for now. Frost describes a believer in Cambodia who demonstrates the advent of the kingdom in a displaced persons camp. He dug trenches to drain the land to reduce mosquitoes bearing infectious disease. He found a truck to transport laborers into the city to find work. What does that look like in a part-time tourist town, a city of ski bum college kids, where obsolete ranchhands and cowboys spend up the hours playing video poker, where heroin addicts come to clean up.

Third, and most insistently, I'm back to the question of what God's kingdom and our mission to alert the world to its presence means for people working retail. Retail, especially in a large chain, is not a context that welcomes relationship. Justice does not roll down (even when we're dropping prices). There's no shalom in shopping. Yet I'm there. A lot of people who follow Jesus are there, for our eight hours, five or more days a week. What does faithful witness, faithful testimony look like there? Can God's kingdom wear through behind the checkstand counter?

I'm excited to read the last chapter of The Road to Missional. This is a book that brings me hope.

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