Tag Archives: mission

Inaugurated eschatology – the kingdom is here but not yet

So sometimes people will say that it is not the place of Christians to fight for justice, to fight against structural injustice in governments or trade systems, or to be green warriors crusading for the environment. Our task is for the higher purpose of tending to people’s souls. I’ve long had problems with this, and yes I am caricaturing a little but to be honest very little. The problem with taking such an approach is that it is verging on dualism, on even gnosticism. It implies that all that matters is the ‘spiritual’, the physical world is bad and will be burned up so lets concentrate on the spiritual. It sounds reasonable in some ways. But stop and think about it for a moment. Why did Jesus rise bodily from the dead? If the physical is not important surely he would simply have risen as a spirit? Why did he go to such lengths like eating, and having people touch him to show that he was a real physical person? Is it not because in the resurrection we see that God desires to restore the physical creation?

Take another perspective. We all recognise that we will never be completely holy until Jesus returns. Does this mean we give up on pursuing holiness? The same in terms of care of creation and justice. Yes we will not restore them completely, that will only happen when Jesus returns, but that doesn’t mean that there is little we can do so we don’t bother. Jesus announced that God’s kingdom had come. Jesus came to demonstrate what life in God’s kingdom – as God would have it – was like. He calls us to do the same. He asks us to pray ‘your kingdom come, your will be done, on earht as it is in heaven’, so of course we are to pursue the care of creation and justice, because when in those small moments when we see justice, or people are stewarding God’s good creation as He called us to, there are glimpses of God’s kingdom as it will be. It inspires us with the hope of what is to come. It shows people what God is like, and his plan for redemption and restoration covers every part of life. We are not disembodied souls being whisked off to the clouds, we are real flesh and blood, feeling people, living in a physical environment. Everything is God’s. He is restoring everything. and obviously humans are the pinnacle of that restoration. Just because I believe God calls us to pursue justice and care for creation doesn’t mean I am not passionate about god restoring and reconciling people to himelf as part of that.
when we talk and think about these things, let’s make sure our thinking is joined up and not fragmented. Lets not slip into simply reacting against someone else and going to the extremes. Let’s have a big view of a huge God that is holistic.

(Can you tell what I am currently reading?)

Delta aren´t so dirty after all..

After last year´s expeeriences we called Delta ´dirty Delta´but this year they delivered us and all our luggage almost on time which was a relief.

We are settling into a much warmer Lima than last year, even a spot of sunshine. We´ve had some great orientation stuff and its exciting to be immersed in an IFES movement that lives and breathes mision integral, at whose heartbeat is the belief that justice is not just something good, but is at the heart of the gospel. I´m once again reminded of the amazing capacity of Peruvians to love and welcome. Tomorrow we´re off to some universities to do some dramas… should be interesting…

One

we’re one but we’re not the same, we’ve got to carry each other

Is how Bono puts it.

Unity.

Something the church is suposed to be famous for. Something that is supposed to characterise those who follow Jesus, and indeed demonstrate to others that we are followers of Jesus because we love each other. Unity is also as Vinoth Ramachandra puts it:

a blind spot of evangelicalism due to our individualistic understandings of the gospel

It is sadly true, often Christians, not just evangelicals or protestants seem to spend more time witnessing against each other than to those who don’t know Jesus, and to whom we want to enjoy the life to the full that Jesus offers. I hold my hands up as one who is guilty, and only too aware that often my reaction to being labelled is to do the same, to define myself over and against another.

Why do we struggle with unity? Partly perhaps because we are human, tainted by the fall and we have a tendency to make a balls of things. Could it also be because we focus our unity on the wrong thing, or use the wrong means perhaps more accurately to seek to achieve unity?

Frequently protestants tend to use doctrinal consensus via theological debate as the means. I know myself I have uttered the words ‘uniting around the core truths of the gospel’ many times. ‘What is core?’ however then opens the debate, and either we see lots of groups emerging, or a watered down consensus that is virtually meaningless. Perhaps we need to listen to the Newbigin’s, Bosch’s and Ramachandra‘s of the world who suggest that our unity must come from our mission, or more correctly our shared participation in God’s mission. This becomes messy and more awkward – it is more difficult to draw neat lines. It is noticeable that when churches work together, when they unite in mission, God shows up and people come to know him. When we choose mission as the means of our unity there is less control, and maybe more room for God than when we tightly define our unity. When we focus on loving others together paradoxically we learn to love each other, and it is this that Jesus calls us to – not to judge each other on our doctrinal purity (I think it was Rene Padilla who said that). Obviously its not just as simplistic as I’m making out but i wonder if our problems of unity would look different if we had a greater focus on mission? Once again Vinoth says it better than I ever will:

It is only when we have learned to die to our own plans and projects, including our plans for world evangelisation, that we can truly love another and move forward into every dimension of life under the leading of the triune god of mission.