Sunday, March 21, 2010

Creation and Mission

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. --Gen 1:1

When I think back to the church of my childhood, it is very clear to me what the central mission was of our life as a church. We aimed to get people to attend church services and get them to walk the aisle. After all the measure of good church depended upon whether people responded to the alter call. That was my Southern Baptist experience, but the same measure is applied to many other traditions with slightly different twists. The mission of the church is usually attached to getting people to attend a worship service and respond in some way to that service.

My imagination about church, God's life and the Gospel was shaped as a kid by this view of mission. Three times per week I sat and listened to services that pointed to a climactic end when we hoped that what we did would prove legit because someone would respond.

In my more sarcastic days I might say something like: did we assume that God created the world so that we could have altar calls? Or on the eighth day God created Just As I Am. We thought that if people would just respond then all would be right with the world. But is this really what God is up? Is this the ultimate of God's Gospel? Isn't there any more Good News that "someone walked the aisle this morning"?

God's mission is much bigger than my "altar call imagination" can handle. God created the heavens and the earth. The problem that mission must address is as big as the redemption of creation and of course personal salvation is part of that. God seeks a New heaven and new earth not simply a group of people looking for an escape route from this messed up world.

To participate in God's mission means that I get caught up in a wave of the Spirit that is pushing against the destruction of creation, one that is bring shalom, peace, wholeness, and beauty to our world. Most days this wave moves me in very small ways, not the spectacular. But imagine is enough of us added these small acts of beauty together. ... How might creation change?

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