“God is personal but never private. God knows everything about us and wants a relationship anyway. Why? To sign us up for his purposes in the world. I didn’t hear that as a kid. I heard about me and the Lord, not about God’s purpose for the world.”
Is it the church’s role to get involved in healing the world’s ills? Is that what Christ came for? The Christian-mission-minded person would say, “Yes,” undeniably. We cannot be here and not feel drawn toward the idea of responding to how our hearts feel led... and surely this extends—in radically loving ways—to involvement at the level of the church.
The stream of thought—a program really—is radical for some but it’s the way the church should be. Church should not just be about singing worship songs, listening to sermons and swilling coffee afterwards.
God’s Inherent Concern
It shouldn’t surprise us that the heart of God is intrinsically connected to his creation.
It is because this creation of God’s groans through this very age (Romans 8:22) on the backdrop of eternity that God is most intimately connected and concerned. We’re apt to think God’s strangely silent to world affairs—to a broader sense of care; we forget the flood came and coming fire comes by God’s plain yet eternal Word (2 Peter 3:3-7). This Word of God sees all (Hebrews 4:12-13) and will judge all. Nothing will escape God’s attention, ever, concerning deeds done and not done in this world... to the extension of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).
Morphing Perceptions of the Great Commission
Could it just be that the Great Commission—to “make disciples of all nations”—is programmatic for the mission of the church? In other words, was it perhaps Jesus’ fundamental design that evangelising Christians might convert a world in Jesus’ name via the works of compassionate missional love that we see all too rarely—on a major scale—come from within the church?
Imagine the power for change if entire believing nations would join forces for good beyond their own borders.
But this idea creates problems. It begins to involve the State.
The State in our world has the role of coordinating such efforts, presumably, and we know that Church and State—as two organisational entities—don’t fit that well together. They share divergent ideologies and, therefore, neither trusts the other sufficiently to join forces in any lasting way.
This is where inter-faith groups have more of a role, yet that potentially dilutes the actual mission for Christ in the purist’s eyes. And, still, so much power for good can be done. Inter-faith groups have much more credibility with the State in that they don’t have a particular religious agenda to push.
We believe the gospel is compelling, and yet how much more visible is the gospel (the one ‘preached’ with loving acts of national aid and not sermons) in the hands of social entrepreneurs with a pastoral heart? This is surely the church with a conscience approaching the State’s.
God Both Personal and National/International
The Bible presents us with a God who’s intrinsically personal, yet also fundamentally national and international—a God who is no respecter of one person or nation over another.
God and church are connected. Church is therefore, we can see, purposed in the program of the entire world and any and every problem beset of or by it. In this, the powerful truth of the gospel—to the end of God’s love—is best heard, i.e. it hits where it is most needed.
Our challenge both personally and familiarly (within the church) is to be a signee to this, perhaps the most inherent of God’s purposes.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.