Perhaps the most basic Christian affirmation can be summarized with these four words: God loves the world. But how can people believe such a statement in the midst of the tragedy, famine, war, disaster, injustice and heartache we experience each and every day? Ultimately, we believe that God loves the world because we believe that God sent Jesus.
I appreciate Stuart Murray’s thoughts on this: “God is the Missionary, who sent His Son and sends His Spirit into the world and whose missionary purposes are cosmic in scope, concerned with the restoration of all things, the establishment of shalom, the renewal of creation and the coming kingdom of God, as well as the redemption of fallen humanity and the building of the Church.”
Whenever we reflect on mission, it is important to note the difference between missions and mission. The church both “does missions” and is “on a mission.” Missions are specific activities undertaken by people who work to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to places and situations where it has not yet been heard or responded to. And while missions activities are an important part of healthy churches, they do not sufficiently describe the fullness of God’s work in the world today.
This work of God in the world today has come to be known as the missio dei. The missio dei is God’s mission – the grand narrative of creation, fall, redemption and consummation. And the amazing thing is that God invites every man, woman, boy and girl to participate in this the work that God is doing in the world to establish the kingdom. We do not build the kingdom ourselves – that is the work of God. Our part is to exercise our faith in the places we live, work, learn, serve and play.
Our participation in the missio dei flows out of the life and activity of the Triune God
- The Father sends the Son;
- The Father and the Son send the Spirit;
- The Father and the Son and the Spirit send the Church into the world.
I love how NT Wright describes our part in the missi dei: “our task as image bearing, God-loving, Christ-shaped, Spirit-filled Christians, following Christ and shaping our world, is to announce redemption to a world that has already discovered its brokenness, to proclaim love and trust to a world that knows only exploitation, fear and suspicion.”
May it be so!