The Mission of God Conference last Friday was, I think, a really encouraging event. St Mark’s church was full. It was a first time for IMap, Tearfund and IBI to co-organise an event like this and partnership is always encouraging.
Chris Wright was the keynote speaker and unpacked themes from his book The Mission of God in great style. He talked about the necessity of seeing the entire story of the Bible as being God’s mission in which we are invited to participate … it starts and finishes with God, not with us. The skeleton of his talk was:
i. GOD WITH A MISSION
The whole mission of God is framed by the bad news of the Genesis 1-11 narrative and the vision of the Revelation 21-22 narrative.
ii. HUMANITY WITH A MISSION
Mankind is given ecological, economic and social responsibility. God’s agenda is to move from judgement to blessing which begins with Abraham.
iii. ISRAEL WITH A MISSION
The uniqueness of Israel’s God Yahweh leads to their election to be a blessing to the nations and to reflect the character of the one true God [election is functional – it is for blessing.] The gospel and community are integral to Israel’s mission. Israel’s mission to bless all nations remains an unfulfilled hope that her Messiah alone can take up.
iv. JESUS WITH A MISSION
Jesus is not only Israel’s Messiah but is the saviour of the whole world. In him is the promise to the nations fulfilled – Chris looked especially at Luke.
v. THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH
It is only here in the narrative that ‘we’ come into the picture – mission does not start with the Great Commission, it starts with God in Genesis. The commission for Christians is to fulfil God’s mission to the nations by being witnesses and servants.
One comment to think about:
The call for the Christian is to ‘fit our tiny slice of life on earth’ into this grand, redeeming, healing, mission of God. And this is a radically different way of seeing not only mission but the whole purpose of both church and our lives.
Where so much evangelicalism is narrowly individualistic – both in terms of how we see God’s purpose in our lives, our churches and how we understand the gospel, I believe that the church is indebted to Chris Wright for showing convincingly how the entire biblical narrative calls individuals and communities to understand their identity and call WITHIN the overarching mission of God.
I also did an interview with Chris during our IBI student weekend retreat at which he spoke (and was wonderfully used by God). I’ll post on this shortly. Great weekend of teaching, fellowship mixed in with plenty of fun & madness!