September 2015

What we are all about

Is it the case that the Church has a mission or is it more correct to state that the Church is defined by mission? A famous quote by German theologian Emil Brunner states that:-
                 “The Church Exists By Mission as Fire Exists By Burning”.
Reread and think about that statement for a moment or two. Fire is not fire unless it burns, and the church is not the church unless it is engaging in mission. hmmmm.

Think about the New Testament in the context of mission. The gospels themselves present the mission of God as Jesus accomplishes his part of the mission:
     • Matthew presents him as the King on mission
     • Mark presents him as the Servant on mission
     • Luke presents him as the Perfect Man on mission
     • John presents him as God on mission

At the end of the Gospel of John; Jesus said, “as the father has sent me [on mission], so I send you [on mission]" (John 20:21). And of course there are the Great Commission passages in Matthew 28 and Luke 24 which are the catapults for the rest of the New Testament—a handbook for mission. It would be difficult to read or teach the book of Acts without being overwhelmed by the evangelistic emphasis
     • The book of Romans is the message of the mission
     • 1st and 2nd Corinthians deal with conflict and church discipline on mission
     • The book of Galatians defends the gospel mission from religion
     • The book of Ephesians emphasizes the church on mission
     • The pastoral epistles describes the leaders of the mission
     • And the book of Revelation describes to us the completion and goal of the mission.

If Jesus sent his people into the world to be disciples who make disciples by baptizing, teaching, and then sending them to go teach others, and we are not doing that, haven’t we failed somewhere? Is the church even a church, biblically speaking, if we are not engaged in the community around us and – in Christ’s name – helping, healing and holding?

We hear about ‘conversion’ - a popular topic in the New Testament, and we think it’s all about converting the ‘outsiders’ and assume that is mission. In fact the majority of conversion language used in the New Testament is aimed at followers of Jesus, Christians just like us. Sure, we’re asked to ‘change’ when we agree to become Christian and follow Christ, but our conversion(s) happens continually as we get to know Him and in that relationship we are asked to change even more.

And that leads us to acknowledge that mission isn’t so much about conversion as serving. But serving deliberately and intentionally (though not insensitively or offensively) in Christ’s name and though his power.

Are we truly willing to serve in God’s mission?


September 2015