Monday, June 28, 2010

Mission and Creation

At E-Way last night we talked about mission. It's part of our ongoing look at our Minister's Liturgy (our rite of belonging/statement of values). Specifically it says this:

To engage missionally in Durham and our larger communities as a redemptive presence and in faithful service.

We talked a lot about mission being redemptive. Mission is about God's purposes. Mission reveals to us our own brokenness and the brokenness of the world, and calls us to participate in God's redemption of us and our world. Christian faith is inherently mission-driven. It is outward- and other-oriented.

Which is all great, and true. But in the back of my mind I thought there was a missing dimension to our dialogue.

God didn't start having purposes when human beings started sinning. No, mission isn't just about redemption, but about creation. God is characterized by love, and love is inherently relational. The back-and-forth dance of love at the heart of the Trinity always expressed this relational love, and God graciously and purposefully decided to share that love by creating a whole universe (or more, for all we know) and life capable of receiving love.

So mission is built into the very fabric of creation. The world has a telos, it exists for a reason, and that reason is good. God's purpose for the world is shalom -- peace, not just in the sense of absence of conflict, but in terms of completeness. Wholeness. Thriving.

Now, where that world has gone astray mission will necessarily involve restoration and redemption. And God's redemption is graciously participatory; He invites us along for the ride. But even when all that work is finished, when the kingdom of God is consummated and we all gather around Jesus' table, there will still be mission. Life will still have a purpose -- to receive and to share the love of the Triune God.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Peace Quote

In the end, then, we have to decide which blessing we value more: social freedom, though at the cost of losing our moral integrity by starting a nuclear war; or moral integrity as a nation, though at the cost of losing our social freedom by allowing our country to be overrun. If this might one day be the option for us, I hope we should know which to choose. It would be better to suffer physical defeat than moral defeat; better to lose freedom of speech, of assembly, even of religion, than freedom of conscience before God.

-John Stott, Human Rights and Human Wrongs