Seeing Missional Green

“They are like trees, planted by streams of water; in all they do they prosper.”  (Psalm 1)

I don’t know why I have never seen this before, but this summer I am noticing how ubiquitous the color green is! Except for the most urban of settings, or the sandy beaches, green seems to be everywhere, especially after the abundant rains we had early in the season.

One of the young members of my family asked me a question last week that sparked my attention to this phenomenon. He wanted to know why the stop light is red and the go light is green. When I did a google search to find a reasonable answer, I found a good explanation for the red light. Red signals danger, which means we should stop instead of proceeding; and the reason the color red is associated with danger is because it is the color of blood. That is easy enough, and there are some theological gems to be mined there, for those who want to go deeper.

But what is captivating me is the green. Why is the green the color for the light that means go? The google search did not give a satisfying answer, only that it was a color that was distinct enough that it would not be confused with red. But shouldn’t there be more than that? Green is the color of things that are growing, of things that are alive. Isn’t chlorophyll the stuff that produces oxygen out of carbon dioxide, and isn’t it green, this redemptive compound?

When I look around at all the trees and all the grass and other vegetation, the color green is so all-encompassing that I have become so accustomed to it that I often barely even notice it. Yet, there it is, surrounding me, sustaining me, beckoning me. Green … for Go.

I am pondering what the Lord may be trying to teach me with this new awakening to the relationship between the abundance of green and the instruction to go. I am reminded of a question that came up recently in a church meeting. A long-standing member of the church said that he had always thought that our purpose was to get people to come to church, rather than for the church to go out to where the people are. I imagine that many of us share that understanding. We have long operated with a “Come and see” approach to finding new disciples. However, there is a strong word from Jesus in the Great Commission of Matthew 28, which is “Go.” After His Crucifixion and Resurrection, the risen Jesus stands among His amazed disciples and declares, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations …” (Matthew 28:18-19)

To reinforce this message, one of our Alexandria district pastors called me one day with great excitement about a new book he had found. It’s called Dinosaurs to Rabbits (see below for more information). The pastor’s excitement was enough to order the book immediately. I read it in less than two days because it was so engaging. Among the many insights and inspirations from this book is the difference it makes when we shift from “Come and join us” to “Go and serve.” This shift leads to more missional vitality, more growth, more life. More green!

I share all of this as a way of inviting our Alexandria District churches to see the green and wonder at it! Has God been trying to tell us something in a way that is so obvious that we have nearly overlooked it? Green means go! Many missional-minded disciples have been showing us this, including this recent book’s powerful call. I invite you to get this book, to get a group of people to study it together, and to see what God will open up in the imagination of your heart for a new season of missional growth. The world we live in can be stifling and life-draining, like carbon dioxide. Will not the redeeming love of our risen Lord transform that toxic energy into missional vitality, as we see the power of all the “green for go” around us?

Grace and Peace,