Thursday, July 21, 2011

Some thoughts on mission (especially cross-cultural mission) - Part 1

Recently I have been thinking about my own view of mission. There are many who know much more than I, and so I don't think the following is new. But I feel that I need to formulate my view on mission in light of the Scripture and experience. Here are some initial thoughts.

Much can be said here. But I will only mention the fact that Paul - the Jewish Christian - is an apostle to the Gentiles. In Romans we find that Paul envisions a Jew-Gentile love-centred community that seeks to follow Jesus. This community is in Christ through Jesus' atoning sacrifice, and seeks to embody Christ's self-giving life through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Paul sees this as God's saving purpose and his role is to proclaim this good news ("good news" is of course the meaning of the Greek word for "gospel") - first to the Jews, then to the Gentiles.

Christ's identification with humanity
The New Testament speaks of a God who sent his Son to our world. It talks about Christ's participation in frail humanity and suffered death as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (not least in Romans 8:3-4). There is a strong sense in which the followers of Jesus are to follow his way of self-giving life. The mission of God consists in him sending his Son to our world to accomplish his saving purpose. The vocation of his followers is to participate in his saving purpose by embodying Christ's way of life. In the context of cross-cultural mission, the messengers of the good news will do well if they enter the culture of their audience, live among them and remain there long-term, learn their language and participate in their sorrow and joy. Through this participatory approach, God's heralds of the gospel reflect God's character and love through their deeds and words. Through God's Spirit the gospel is proclaimed through his Presence in the Christ-followers.

Not everyone is called to engage in long-term cross-cultural mission. But we are all called to participate in God's saving purpose by embodying Christ's self-giving way of life in our own contexts and through our solidarity with those who engage in long-term cross-cultural mission.

(Click here for Part 2 on my thoughts on mission)

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