Christopher J. H. Wright on the story scripture tells as crucial to the church’s mission

So we are seeking, in this book, for a “Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission”. What better examples could we follow than Jesus and Paul? We need to pay attention to the whole story of the Bible and see our mission in the light of all of it.

Indeed, we need to ask ourselves right up front: How well do you actually know the biblical story? If Jesus and Paul saw fit repeatedly to go over it with those who knew their Old Testament Scriptures inside out, how much more do we need to make sure we are familiar with the content of the Bible as a whole? Tragically, even among Christians with great enthusiasm for world mission, there is often not only profound ignorance of great vistas of biblical revelation, but even impatience with the prolonged effort that is needed to soak ourselves in these texts until our whole thinking and behaviour are shaped by the story they tell, the worldview that story generates, the demands it lays upon us and the hope it sets before us. The attitude of some is that all you need is the Great Commission and the power of the Holy Spirit. Bible teaching or biblical theology will only serve to delay you in the urgent task. Presumably I can take comfort in the fact that you are reading this book, which means that this is an attitude you don’t share.

I find it helpful to visualize the biblical story as a actual line on which one can plot key points. The four major sections of the biblical story line are–Creation, Fall, Redemption in History, and New Creation. Within the Redemption in History section, of course, falls by far the largest portion of the biblical story, and it needs further subdivision.

“Just do it” seems to have spilled over from Nike to being the slogan of some forms of Christian mission. I was at a large mission mobilization congress where the slogan was “Just go!” My first reaction was to say, “Just hold on.” Even Jesus spent three years training his disciples before he told them to “Go”, and even that time was scarcely enough to radically reshape their scriptural understanding in the light of his own identity, to understand where the biblical story was leading in relation to himself and the future of Israel and of the world. How much more is such training needed when we hear that Bible reading and knowledge among evangelical Christians is at a shamefully low ebb.

Christopher J. H. Wright, The Mission of God’s People: A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission (Biblical Theology for Life), 39.

The last paragraph I included is on the side of the page by itself with a lighter font.

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