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.


Rachel said...

That's good! Thanks for sharing.

Josh said...

I like your insight, Travis, that mission is creational. Somewhere Alan Roxburgh has argued that to be missional is to work with God as "co-creators." The biblical support for this idea begins in the creation story, with humans created in God's image and then entrusted with the responsibility of naming the animals (naming is a creative act). The image of God is a function; our function is to participate in God's mission as co-creators.

Jesse B said...

Well said - it is easy to focus on the fall and not the glory. This gets at many of our conversations about the nature (and misconceptions) of Heaven.