Oftentimes in my life, instead of viewing the world as a beachhead* (to use a war term) for mission, I have wanted to find an impregnable (to use another military term) oasis in which to live, and do mission from and in that. We all can be afflicted with the sense that the grass is greener on the other side. And yet wherever we move there are problems, sometimes serious ones, at least long term. In fact this entire world is terminal, actually. Scientists know that the earth can last only so long before it is obliterated by a hot sun in the latter stages of that star’s existence. And yet on earth now there does seem to be a settledness. The seasons we take for granted, though climate change is bound to wreak some havoc on that, and on earth.
When it is all said and done, this world in a way is simply a stage for us to live out what Jesus began, in and through Jesus: the kingdom of God come in him, and to proclaim that grace and kingdom to everyone. Everything else is secondary to that. But we often get so caught up in the things of this life, even good things, that God’s kingdom come in Jesus becomes almost like a passing shadow which instead of goading us to want others to repent from lesser things and come to enjoy its shade and blessing, becomes a place from which we can carry on our own agendas.
The world is the place into which we in Jesus are sent. Even as he was sent by the Father, so he sends us. And we are to live out God’s grace and kingdom in Jesus as church in this world. To proclaim this kingdom to the world’s powers, to everyone. And to call others to join us in and through Jesus, for an entirely new way of being human, indeed a community living out shalom, spread into small communities throughout the earth.
The world I am referring to here is not the world system as in the world, the flesh and the devil. But it refers to the inhabitants of earth, and the order and cultures in which they live. We are spread everywhere, and indeed are to go to the places in which the message of Jesus has not yet been heard. Simply speaking, wherever we in Jesus are, we are on mission.
And so let us not think of how we can make life better for ourselves, as if that’s what life is about. Rather, let us follow the one who sent into the world, laid down his life for the world. Together in Jesus for that world.
*Beachhead in the sense that Jesus has overcome and been victorious over the world by his death, so that we in Jesus, partakers of his death and resurrection, and more than conquerors through him, can continue in that leavening in Jesus that is destined to fill the earth when he returns.