I started reading this book for a class I am taking this semester. I have to admit that more often than not I find myself less than impressed with the textbook selection for any given class. I’ve found myself saying time and time again, “this is awful, (insert book name here) would have been a much better choice.” Once in awhile, though, I find a gem. I’m only 40 pages into Christopher Wright’s 2010 Book “The Mission of God’s People: A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission”, but I already know that this is a book you’ll want to check out!
Just in the first pages, he hit on something that has always bugged me about “mission” in the Church. Typically, a Church has one of three views toward mission.
- Mission is something that is somewhere overseas in a foreign country. It is cross-cultural and is participated in by those who either have raised enough support to dedicate their whole life to this work, or by those who take short-term trips from their churches (college groups, youth groups, etc.)
- Mission is primarily social. We are called to be stewards of this earth. We hear Scripture’s mandates to be a blessing to the nations, seek the welfare of the city, take care of widows and orphans, be the salt of the earth and light of the world. We hear over and over in them a call to doing good and doing justice. Our mission is to bring about social justice in the world.
- Mission is primarily evangelistic. We have the responsibility to “bring lost souls into the kingdom”. Our mission is to connect people to a God who can cure their sin problem and swipe their “get out of hell free card.”
Taken separately, I think we miss the vastness of mission. They are all worthy “missions” but when we focus on one primarily over the other(s) we miss what mission is all about. Mission has primarily to do with sending and being sent. We are sent by God to accomplish God’s mission in the creation. Wright says, “our mission flows from God’s mission, and God’s mission is for the sake of his whole word–indeed his whole creation.” When we get into the tired old argument between evangelical and social action, we miss something about our own mission. Since God’s mission includes the entire creation–so does ours. Wright says, “Perhaps this sounds like the hoary and familiar debate about the relationship between evangelism and social action, but I hope that our study…will take us beyond the traditional polarizing and prioritizing that…so distorts and pulls part what God intended to be held together.”
When we allow our mission as God’s people to be God’s mission instead of a prioritizing of our own agendas we see that there is mission in foreign countries, their is mission right next door, their is mission that involves us working for change that brings about transformation to our world. God’s mission is inclusive of the entire creation…of all the areas that we typically segregate into separate “types” of mission.
We work not just to bring about justice and relief, not just to cure a sin problem…but to encompass it all to bring about changed lives as we align our mission with God’s.
I hope to share more with you from this book that I’m sure has much more to offer!