Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi made a movie in 1980 about Jake and Elwood Blues. The Blues Brothers are on a “mission from God” to save the orphanage where they were raised. “Mission from God” is the catchphrase throughout the movie. The cops won’t catch us because we’re on a mission from God. The rednecks won’t hurt us because we’re on a mission from God. The lady with the rocket launcher won’t kill us because we’re on a mission from God. We can’t be stopped, we can’t be slowed down, nothing’s going to get in our way, because we’re on a mission from God.
At one of the dramatic points in the movie — yes, there are a couple of dramatic moments in The Blues Brothers — both men get into the car at the same time, they close their doors, and there’s an effective pause. A stillness. Then Aykroyd, in his deadpan, matter of fact way, assesses the situation.
“It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark… and we’re wearing sunglasses.”
To which Belushi points to the road ahead and replies, “Hit it!”
We know our God is on a mission. His mission is not to save an orphanage, although, that is part of it. God’s mission is to save the whole world. The Bible says God is bringing all things in heaven and on earth together in Christ. In Jesus, God is restoring all of creation, he is reconciling all things, he’s tearing down all the walls and destroying all the barriers to bring all people and all things together in Christ. That’s what God is doing. That’s his mission.
And he has no interest in doing it by himself. He calls us to join him.
God tells Abraham he’s going to bless all the peoples of the world, but he’s going to do it through him. He tells Moses, “I have come down to rescue my people, but I’m sending you to the Pharaoh to bring them out.” He tells Joshua, “I am giving this land to my children, but you’re going to lead them in and do the fighting.”
When God shows us in person exactly what he’s doing and how he wants it done, he comes here in the flesh and blood of Jesus. He wants us to see him in action, up close. He wants us to understand. And what we see and understand is Jesus recruiting apostles and disciples to join him in bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to earth.
Jesus heals the sick because there is no disease in heaven. He feeds the poor because there’s no hunger in heaven. Jesus raises the dead because there aren’t any cemeteries in heaven. He turns the other cheek because there is no violence in heaven. He eats dinner with everybody because there is no discrimination in heaven. Heaven on earth. That’s the mission.
Jesus then sends his disciples out with the timeless charge: I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do the same things I’ve been doing! Go! Go do it! I am with you always! And, remember, you didn’t choose me; I chose you! You are the light of the world! You are the city on a hill! Your good deeds bring praise to our Father in heaven!
Every one of us is on a mission from God. None of us is exempt. The Bible calls us ambassadors for Christ. It says we’ve all been given God’s ministry of reconciliation. Jesus says, on that last day, the King will judge us according to who’s on the mission and who’s not.
The people living in darkness need to know there’s another way. And God calls you and me to communicate it. To live it. In a world driven by division and hate, we demonstrate unity and love. In a world built on violence and maintained by punishment, we embody peace and forgiveness. In a world that thrives on judgment, we are a people of grace. In a world that teaches us to take and to look out for number one, children of God and followers of Christ live to give and to consider the needs of others more important than our own. In a broken and fallen world where the evidence of the brokenness surrounds us, we don’t go out and pick a fight; we go out and live the Gospel! We join our God on his mission.
The most dangerous thing we can do is play it safe. We can’t do that when we’re on a mission from God. Today and every day we sail out into the storm trusting our God who said, “I am giving you this land!” We trust our Lord Jesus who said, “I am with you always!” And we trust the Holy Spirit who is already out there, way ahead of us, preparing the good works in advance for us to do.
Nothing can harm us, nothing can stop us, nothing can slow us down, because we’re on a mission from God.
It’s 1,052 miles to Chicago (which has absolutely nothing to do with this part), we’ve got a full tank of Holy Spirit power, a heart for the people God puts in our path, it’s a dark world… and we’re saved by God and called by him to be light.
Heard in a College Station parking lot at around 5:00 am one March morning in 1981: “It’s 432 miles to South Padre, we’ve got a full tank of gas, a pickup bed loaded with ice and beer, it’s dark… and we’re wearing sunglasses.”