I am just days away from finishing a season of my life that has been rich, challenging, expansive, and inspiring, as I have served in the Executive Director role with Canadian Baptist Ministries. The past five years have been used by God to form in me deep convictions about the mission of the Church (both local and global mission), and I thought it’d be worthwhile to post a few last entries on this site that articulates those convictions.
This list is not meant to be exhaustive. But I would “go to the wall” for these things – for me, they are non-negotiable. They are all related to each other much as different facets on a polished jewel are all a part of the same thing.
Core conviction #1: We don’t have a mission. God does, and invites us to join Him.
This is something we often say, but it is really hard to live this way. It is especially hard for us from the Western world, because we are used to making things happen. We have the money, we have the education, we have the skill-sets, we have high-speed Internet: what more do we need? 🙂
Well, actually, we need a LOT more. God, for example. We need God.
It is ironic and troubling that sometimes I end up in conversations with Christians who are doing good work but who don’t know how what they do is different from a non-faith person who is doing similar work. If they don’t know what the difference is, then maybe the work they are doing is not distinctively Christ-centred. I’m not saying that this an easy question to answer, but we need to keep letting the question haunt us. We need to keep asking questions such as “what does it mean to run a food security project in the name of Jesus?” and “What does it mean to support people with AIDS, in the name of Jesus?” And, similarly, we need to keep asking questions such as “what does it mean to be the church in the midst of civil conflict?” and “What does it mean to preach about and share God’s love when our community is filled with refugees?” God’s mission includes the healing of all of Creation: broken spirits, broken relationships, broken bodies, broken societies, broken families, broken economies – the whole thing.
Core Conviction #2: God’s mission is about the King establishing the Kingdom.
Some people are really into the King – they are into Jesus, and they want people to come into relationship with Jesus. So do I. Other people are really into the Kingdom – they are into the transformation that the King brings to economic and social and family relationships. I want that too.
But you can’t have one without the other. A Kingdom doesn’t exist unless there’s a King, and a King is not a King without a Kingdom. And so, to seek justice and social transformation without relating to the King is to seek a type of self-centred individualistic justice that is arbitrary, ideological, and is too focused on the short life-span we have on earth. Conversely, to seek relationship with the King without also caring about what the King cares about is to use salvation as an exit strategy from the Creation that the King is redeeming and is too focused on the life-span we will have in eternity.
(Two more convictions in the next post.)