I’m listening to a great lecture by Peter Harris, the Director of A Rocha, which is a Christian conservation organization. In the lecture he quotes Psalm 67:
“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth. May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us. God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear him.”
He argues that in this Psalm, we observe four movements of God’s mission to the world — personal, social, political and ecological. I would add that these movements may best be understood as concentric circles. In fact, Peter Harris states that the best ecological change occurs when individuals and communities change.
I think this is an appropriate topic for Advent. As we again anticipate the coming of our Lord — the climaxing of God’s mission in a human life — we need also to visit our understanding and participation in God’s mission.
Thinking about God’s mission brings my mind back to something N.T. Wright has taught. He states that we are living in the midst of a great Drama or Story. Several acts or chapters have come before us — Creation, Crisis, Calling, and Christ (although he doesn’t necessarily use those labels). We also have significant glimpses into the final act of Consummation, the fullness of a renewed heavens and earth. However, the time we are living in isn’t scripted. We have the preceding movements of the Story, finally climaxing in the life of Christ, and we have the finale of the New Creation. N.T. Wright states that our role is to immerse ourselves into God’s Story so that we naturally improvise our part in this unscripted act of God’s Drama in a way that is completely at home with what has come before and what awaits us in the future.
So, as I try to improvise within this grand Story, these questions come into my mind:
+ How can my personal and our corporate formation and mission engage God’s mission in personal lives, helping each other and others enter into a saving, apprentice-relationship with Christ?
+ In what ways can I/we engage God’s mission in the social spheres — living as a prayerful and loving countercultural resistance-movement community that demonstrates human life under God’s reign and shalom?
+ In what ways can I/we engage God’s mission in the political arena — peacefully pursuing justice, confronting principalities and powers, addressing economic conditions resulting from poor politics, and embodying God’s mercy and hope to the hurting and marginalized?
+ In what ways can I/we engage God’s mission in the ecological realm — following Jesus into his true image-bearing life as co-creators and co-stewards of God’s creation, nurturing and summoning greater goodness in what God has made?
–Father, help me to invest more of myself into living and exploring these questions. Confront me and strip me of my selfishness and false stories that prevent me from entering into your formation and mission in each of these four areas. And as I celebrate Advent and anticipate the coming of Christ, continue to bring my mind and heart back to this amazing mission he embraced and then commissioned me to participate in. Amen.–