Saturday, May 15, 2010

Global Mission And Personal Evangelism: Inseparable Yet Distinct

I was just thinking....

Any congregation that is truly faithful to Christ and biblical in nature will be heavily involved both relationally and financially with global missions. This involvement will flow out of the passion of each member’s heart for their neighbors, family, and friends who have yet to give their lives to Jesus. These two emphases are just different sides of the same coin, as they say. They are irreducibly connected, as indicated in Jesus’ wording in John 3:16.

For God so loved the world
that he gave his one and only Son,
so that whoever believes in him shall not perish
but have eternal life.

In this one well known sentence, God’s mission to the world (τον κοσμον), which was motivated by God’s unconditional love, is realized in each individual’s trust (ο πιστευων) in Jesus as God’s only Son. The Greek word used here, ho pisteuon, is an active participle in the present tense and singular number. This magnifies the emphasis on God’s incredible act of redemption for the world being fulfilled when individuals actively and continually give their trust to Jesus. Therefore, global mission, from God’s perspective, can only be realized in personal evangelism, and personal evangelism is the primary tool of global mission.

This organic intertwining of these two great ends of the church of Jesus Christ is again reiterated by Jesus in His Great Commission, which is quoted in Matthew 28:18-20.

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

In one audacious phrase, Jesus ties our mission to go out into the world with the task of making disciples, which is done one individual at a time. He even gives us a discipling protocol, which consists of baptizing and teaching to obey, again actions reflecting the response of individuals (the “believing ones” cited in John 3:16). However, the actions of baptizing in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teaching people to obey Jesus’ commands place each individual disciple into the communal context of living in God’s kingdom, where Christ’s authority reigns through His people in this world, and His presence is experienced by individual believers in a shared (dare I say “accountable”) life together.

 It is clear by now, given these little exe-snippets of Scripture, that any church that is not geared to both global mission and personal evangelism is a seriously deficient church, and as such cannot claim to be fulfilling God’s will or advancing God’s purposes. These emphases are central to what God is about in this world, and therefore must be reflected in the identity and actions of any truly biblical congregation. In adoration of and obedience to Jesus Christ who has obliterated our sins and made us truly alive, we are impelled to bring this “Good News” of Jesus to our neighbors both nearby and far away.

Anyway, I was just thinking....