Wednesday 24 November 2010

Church sent into the world

David Bosch writes, “The involvement in the world should lead to a deepening of our relationship with and dependence on God, and the deepening of this relationship should lead to an increasing involvement in the world.” Tod Hiestand writes: " the individual church must see itself as sent into the world, it must also see itself as sent into the world along with the church catholic."

The mission of the church is derived from Jesus' call to gather together. also the apostle Paul called us not to neglect our own congregational meetings which form the church, (Hebrews 10:25)
The church’s call to be a “sign, witness and foretaste” of the coming Kingdom may not be overlooked.

God has sent the church so that in His mission His “love and attention are directed primarily at the world". God has given His son as the foundation of the Church.

We are all part of the world but God and His son Jesus have given us the task to distantiate from the worldly matters. The church that “goes” is the church that finds its primary identity detached from the world and set apart as holy.  The separate and untainted church rightfully understands that it needs to be a witness for the gospel.
Missiologist David Bosch writes: “Spirituality or devotional life seems to mean withdrawal from the world, charging my batteries, and then going out into the world. The image is of an automobile that runs on batteries only.”
Jesus light of Israel, but also for all people, states the need for us to remain set apart in their sentness, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”(John 17:18) We can hope to reap which shall only be possible if we properly reflect the teachings of Christ Jesus. Christ means ‘Messiah’, the  anointed one. He was anointed in order " to preach the Gospel" (Luke 4:18); and we too have been anointed insofar as we are in Christ, the anointed one (2 Corinthians 1:21). Therefore as He was ordained a preacher of the Gospel to the world, we too share that honour (as we do all His honours, to some extent). He was anointed (‘oiled’) by God in order to give the oil of joy to His people; He shared His experience of anointing with us, and we must go out and do likewise (Isaiah 61:1,2) (cp. Luke 4:18).

Isaiah’s description of the beauty of Christ’s preaching in (Isaiah 52:7) is quoted by Paul concerning every preacher of the Gospel (Romans 10:15); the “he” of (Isaiah 52) is changed to “them” in Romans 10. And Paul is quoting this Old Testament prophecy about Jesus to prove that we are all “sent” to preach the Gospel. The validity of our commission to preach is quite simply that Jesus Himself preached; in this way we are all personally “sent” to preach, simply because He was sent to preach. As the Father sent Him, so He sends us.  We should be ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20) and we should show the world that we are united in that one Body of Christ. Jesus prays that they would remain unified, “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” With Jesus’ prayer as a foundation for understanding the nature of the church we see that the Church finds itself in the world, yet set apart and unified.

We as brothers and sisters in Christ do have to be unified if we desire to have an effective witness in the world and to build a true church of Christ. We can not be monads or private disciples going our own way, out of love for our fellow believers we do have to share the love of Christ and our own love with the whole community.

We need to speak out against the suburban value of extreme individualism and call Christians back to community. We should prepare the ground, fertilise the field, and plant Bible based structures.

We need to deconstruct the value of consumerism in a way that leads instead to sacrificial living and we need to understand how our individualism and consumerism lead us to neglect the hurting and needy people in our neighborhoods and cities. We cannot stay together in a closed or isolated cocoon. It can help everybody if we can move from an individualized witness to a more robust and powerful communal witness.

Jesus was not about sending his disciples out by themselves into their individualized world to “share the gospel” so that people could “go to heaven when they die.” Rather, he was sending them out to be a communal, public witness to the Kingdom that he was announcing and inaugurating. We need a Church that rejects the lone ranger mentality and lives in sacrificial and compassionate community.

(Based on ideas from Todd Hiestand and Duncan Heaster)

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