Saturday, March 8, 2008

A Mission Shaped by Hope

Presently, I am reading the insightful book by N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection and the Mission of the Church. In the final chapter, he argues that the hope that he has described in the book (a hope that is rooted in God's promise to recreate all things, including the physical bodies of his children) is intended to shape the mission of the Church. He writes:

"A mission-shaped church must have its mission shaped by its hope; that the genuine Christian hope, rooted in Jesus' resurrection, is the hope for God's renewal of all things, for his overcoming of corruption, decay, and death, for his filling of the whole cosmos with his love and grace, his power and glory ... Think through the hope that is ours in the gospel; recognize the renewal of creation as both the goal of all things in Christ and the achievement that has already been accomplished in the resurrection and go to the work of justice, beauty, evangelism, the renewal of space, time, and matter as the anticipation of the eventual goal and the implementation of what Jesus achieved in his death and resurrection."

I could not agree more heartily with Dr. Wright. Here is what I want to explore though. How does the NT link the hope of new creation to the mission of the church? I can already think of several times that the Apostle Paul makes the link. For example, after a lengthy exposition for the Corinthians of our hope of resurrection that is rooted in the resurrection of Christ, the second Adam, he concludes with this commission.

"Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain" (1 Cor 15.58, NIV).

Thus, I would like to pose this question. "How does the NT root the mission of the Church in our hope that was secured by Easter?" This is especially relevant for our church as in God's providence, we prepare for Mission Month in April, right after we celebrate Easter!!

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