This will be one of several posts that create a full thought that God has been erupting in my heart recently through the place of prayer. Really the beginning of my thought process will become the last post in this series focusing on Kingdom Vision Unto Missions (KVUM). And this first post was one of the last things to click into place for me, in the full revelation of this. So, here goes!
If I am a believer, then ideally, I would want to live life in such a way that it is given to the mission or vision of God, right? I would want to make sure that I knew His will and saw life through the proper perspective and story line of God. Where I’m not the center of the story (that is called humanism), but where God is the center and I am looking to see how I fit into His storyline.
In order to have that proper perspective, I must know where it is that God is aiming when it comes to the scope of humanity and keep His vision always before me, so that I live according to it.
Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” Rev. 11:15 (the declaration that all of heaven has been waiting for since the fall of man…for God to rule on the earth once again w/man)
“and I will bring them to dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God (in light of the next age after Christâ€™s coming), in faithfulness and in righteousness.” (specifically referring to Israel) Zech. 8:8
â€œAll 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 the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to OBEY EVERYTHING I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.â€ Matt. 28:18-20 (also after Christâ€™s return and taking Lordship over the earth-the Great Commission being fulfilled only after His return, but not negating the fact that we still disciple in the now)
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. Rev. 21:3
The mission of God is to dwell w/righteous humanity (resurrected believers), in His fullness, once again (like in the beginning), on the earth. Following Christâ€™s first coming, the Scripture is filled with language of this reality. They wanted to â€œwalk worthyâ€ of Godâ€™s invitation (calling) to eternity w/Him, â€œendure to the endâ€, and keep the â€œblessed hopeâ€ (resurrection unto life w/Him) in sight. (Eph. 1:16-23; Matt. 24:13; Titus 2:13)
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him (upon His return), not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith–that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead (overcome death by resurrected body â€œthenâ€, through dieing to self â€œnowâ€). Not that I have already obtained this (resurrected body) or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own (endure to the end w/my heart set on â€œthe goal for the prize of the upward callâ€/invitation to the wedding supper of the Lamb), because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus…But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. Phil. 3:7-14,20-21
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. Rom. 6:5
Jesus has conquered death (first born from the dead-Col. 1:18 having a resurrected body), and we must allow Him to lead us to the outcome that He has come to Himself. Our resurrection to eternity w/Christ depends purely on the state of our heart. Everything flows from that reality, and if we forget that, we have the potential of losing it all. The reality that Christ had while on the earth during His first coming, was to overcome death fully (body, soul and spirit), and thus lead the rest of humanity to that reality in order to bring us full circle upon His Second Coming; to spend all of eternity w/Him as was in the beginning.
When you know the desired outcome, then all you do in the here and now (missions) will begin to align with that mission, and flow from it at even the smallest of levels. The desired outcome for us as humanity is to receive our resurrected bodies unto life, when Christ returns as King of the nations, thus overcoming death as Jesus did and dwelling w/Him forever and ever on earth. If we don’t get our bodies back in the end, then death and satan wins and as the Word says, then this whole Christianity thing is a crock (which I don’t believe obviously).
So, the question is, does our “missions”/ministry flow from the ultimate mission of God and cause those that we minister to (or encounter our vision), to look at the “then” (resurrection and coming King(dom)) when you are proclaiming and demonstrating Him in the “now”? If not, then are we full witnesses of God and His Kingdom? The apostles understood their soteriology (salvation) based not off the right now, but off of whether they “endured to the end” or kept the “hope of glory” in their sights unto death, or His return, whichever came first.
It was in that reality that caused their lives to be lived in the place of prayer and keeping His Kingdom (the throne room above) before them. Opps, that is for the next post but you just got a sneak peek. Until next time, blessings on you all!
June 9, 2009
Good thoughts here Rich. I don't think I've ever read Philippians quite like that. Especially with Paul there is a forward looking thread in many of his letters. We talked a little about I Cor 15 the other night. The list goes on, of passages pointing to the age to come or "the desired outcome" as you put it. A shared vision of the future has to be one of the most powerful uniting bonds of a community. It also has the potential to be contentious, as you know, conversations around eschatology can be!
I've been digging a little bit into Christopher H. Wright's book "The MIssion of God" and have found some of his work really insightful around this subject but at times he looses me when developing his ideas about "creation care" related to church mission within God's mission. Basically this amounts to Christian based environmentalism, which a majority of evangelicals scoff at. He points to the Noahic covenant (Gen 9) and of course the dominion mandate, though I don't think he uses that language, and brings up the ideas of God's covenant with all of creation. I'm in agreement with the fact that God is in covenant with creation and that man was once given stewardship of the earth, but it seems to me we lost that "job" in the fall (Gen 3). God continues His faithfulness to creation and will see it restored to it's original glory (maybe even to surpass that), but I have a hard time seeing that as an emphasis in NT Christianity. I don't so much see it in the letters of Paul or the teaching of Jesus etc. I appreciate the holistic view of the gospel being about the restoration of all things, as CH Wright says but not sure how emphasized that ought to be in Christian mission. At the same time I appreciate the departure from the "save souls" metaphysical dualism kind of gospel that leaves us disconnected from the realities of the Kingdom of God. Thoughts?
June 9, 2009
just a clarification on my comment:
"God continues His faithfulness to creation and will see it restored to it's original glory (maybe even to surpass that), but I have a hard time seeing THAT (As in, Christian environmentalism) as an emphasis in NT Christianity."
June 10, 2009
Thanks for the birthday wishes for Sylas! We miss you guys!