Chapter One: Mission
Additional information, discussion, and resources
More About Mission
Defining the concept of mission and then relating it to theology made this a particularly difficult chapter to write in the given space. Mission is more than simply sharing the Gospel message, but going out and living it. In other words, our reflection on theology helps us become like Christ as we go and do his mission. However, I often found myself reducing mission to the narrow sense of merely sharing a message. Sometimes living the Gospel can be much more difficult than simply relating the theology of the message. For more on mission, check out Friend of Missional.
Biblical and Systematic Theology
The theology definitions I provided in this chapter were a bit underdeveloped and simplified. For a more comprehensive treatment, see the Treasures Old and New blog.
Christianity Today has an interesting article relating to the approach of missionaries when sharing the Gospel in another culture and its implications for us in our own context today.
Assuming they survive the initial contact (which no
one takes for granted anymore) the missionaries spend a great deal of
effort to learn the tribal language and culture. They work at building
relationships so that when it comes time to share the Good News, people
listen instead of chasing after them with machetes. Apparently food and
medicine help a lot with this, at least according to the movie.
Okay, so once they understand the language and
culture and have built relational bridges with the people, they begin
to share the message of salvation. Now comes the interesting
part—during this process, behavioral issues are very low in priority.
Rather than being “sin police” the missionaries view themselves as
ambassadors of Christ (2 Cor. 5:20). If they focus on behavioral problems, such as idolatry or sexual sin, it can be very counterproductive.
Ron recounted instances where the missionaries got
the tribal people to do all the right things. You know, little things
like wearing clothes, not murdering their neighbor, stuff like that.
But for all their success in making the natives civilized, the gospel
never took hold. The people did what the missionaries wanted, because
they saw the benefits of cooperating. Frankly, it really amazes me what
a well-timed gift of a cast-iron pot can do. But the people they were
trying to reach never internalized the gospel and the result was
tragic. Why did these efforts at evangelism fail? Because instead of
looking with compassion on tribal people those particular missionaries
viewed them as inferior or even “evil” and needing to be “fixed.”