Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Mission of God's People - Chapter 1 - Part 1.1

Wright titles his opening chapter with this question - "Who are we and what are we here for?" A good starter question for developing a Biblical theology for the "The Mission of God's People." I have called this blog 'Living Sent Today' for a number of reasons but answering this question - "Who are we and what are we here for?" - is at the heart of what it means to Live Sent. We won't "live sent" if we don't understand who we are and what we are here for. Without a Biblical understanding of the answer to this vital all-important question  we will try to live life on our terms. As is so often the case we will then struggle with an answer for ourselves. I know I did for many years. Or, perhaps we won't even consider an answer thinking there isn't one or it doesn't really matter. But is that really anyway to live or just mere existence?
Question - How would you answer this question and how has that changed throughout your life?

The first chapter is filled with other thoughtful questions that will guide the rest of the book, but here Wright sets the stage for what is to come. One of the first questions asked is - "sent to do what?" That is a good starting place, because as Wright does point out answering that question is often a matter of contentious debate between Christians and has been throughout the centuries. Do we narrowly or broadly answer that question? Our answer often depends on the traditions we come from. There are probably as many answers as there are denominations.

Wright however answers the question by looking at several Biblical examples:

"...the range of things for which people were sent is staggeringly board. "Sending language is used in the following stories. Joseph was sent (unwittingly at first) to be in a position to save lives from a famine (Genesis 45:7). Moses was sent (unwillingly at first) to deliver people from oppression and exploitation (Exodus 3:10 ). Elijah was sent to influence the course of  international politics (1 Kings 19:15-18). Jeremiah was sent to proclaim God's Word (e.g. Jer. 1:7). Jesus claimed the words of Isaiah that we was sent to proclaim good news, to proclaim freedom, to give sight for the blind and to offer release from oppression (Lk 4:6-19, cf Isa. 61:1)."
"The disciples were sent to were sent to preach and demonstrate the delivering and healing power of the reign of God (Matt. 10:5-8). As apostles they were sent to make disciples, baptize and teach (Matt 28:18-20). Jesus sent them into the world in the same way the Father had sent him, which raises lots of interesting questions and challenges (John 17:18; 20:21). Paul and Barnabas were sent with famine relief (Acts 11:27-30). Later they were sent for evangelism and church planting (Acts 13:1-3). Titus was sent to ensure trustworthy and transparent financial administration (2 Cor. 8:16-24). Later he was sent for competent church administration (Titus 1:5). Apollos was sent as a skilled Bible teacher for church nurture (Acts 18:27-28). Many unnamed brothers and sisters were sent out as itinerant teachers for the sake of the truth of the Gospel (3 John 5-8).
 Biblically, then, there are many ways for Living Sent Today. Wright concludes on this point:

"So, even if we agree that the concept of sending and being sent lies at the heart of mission, there is a broad range of Biblically sanctioned activities that people may be sent by God to do, including famine relief, actions for justice, preaching, evangelism, teaching, healing and administration.
Question - how does this broad approach challenge your understanding? 

I think when we understand this broadness of "sentness" we are better able to live sent everywhere we go and it goes a long way in answering the question - "what are we here for?" The answer simply put becomes "we are here to do our Master's bidding." And, as we see from these examples that takes on many "missional" forms. But is everything mission then? Not necessarily. Wright points out that "mission" must flow from the "Mission of God," which flows from the Grand Narrative of Scripture. God has a purpose but Wright also points out that it is "board indeed"...

"Mission arises from the heart of God himself, and is communicated from his heart to our. Mission is the global outreach of the global people of a global God."
The answer to the first part of the question - "Who are we...? then flows out of God's mission, being defined by God, for and by his mission of for us of Living Sent Today.

Question - Who are you living for?  How do you define your life's purpose?

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