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THEOLOGY OF MISSION
Two Old Testament and Two New Testament Mission:
Mission is a particular task. Biblical theology is mission based theology. The term mission is associated with the proclamation of the message. It is the Biblical theology that is based on the belief that when God creates human being, He assigns them certain task, which is known as the Mission. The term mission has been incorporated both in the Old Testament and New Testament. In the Old Testament, God is a sender of His chosen people to fulfilling a certain task, which is called Mission. He sends missionaries on the earth to complete a particular task for which they have been assigned.
The Old Testament Example of Mission:
There are many verses in the Old Testament that discuss the term mission and evangelization. The story of Abraham is the primary example that reveals God’s mission. The mission is explained indirectly through the story of Abraham. God called Abraham to father a nation (Genesis 12:1 – 4) Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I show you.” Thus Abram had been called by Lord and ordered by Him to leave his homeland and go to the place where God had told him. At that time God did not reveal the name of the place. Abraham obeyed God with full faith and gathered his family and his belongings and leave for another place unknown to him. Thus his missionary journey started and the first destination of the journey is Egypt. When Abraham along with his wife Sarah came to the land of Egypt, he was the new and inexperienced missionary. He was still undeveloped in his skills. His lack of maturation forced him to lie about his marital relationship with Sarah. He hid that Sarah is his wife. God helped Abraham in giving back his wife Sarah from the hands of Pharaoh. Pharaoh honored God and blessed Abraham.
The fascinating story of Abraham is the first example of God’s mission. Abraham accepted God’s mission voluntarily. There is one more story that is related to the mission of Lord and that is the story of Joseph. Joseph was the second to youngest child of Jacob; the biblical patriarch. Joseph was favored by his father as well as by God. God showed him many dreams of his future and told him that in future, his brothers will bow down in front of him and his father and mother would also honor him a lot. This made his brother excessive jealous on him and one day, in the wilderness, they threw him into a pit. They saw him from afar, and before he came near to them, they conspired against him and planned to kill him. They further convinced their father that Joseph was killed. Here Joseph was sold to the Ishmaelites who further sold him to the Egyptians and he became slave. The name of his master was Potiphar, who was a guard of Pharoah. Joseph was given the charge of Potiphar’s house. While his master was not at home, his wife demanded sex with Joseph, who refused. The angry lady alleged that Joseph raped her. Joseph was put into prison on the charge of rape. When he was brought in front of Paraoh, Paraoh had a chain of several dreams and he wanted those dreams to be interpreted. Paraoh came to know that Joseph is expert in interpreting the dream. Paraoh called him and Joseph interpreted his dreams. In his contentment, Paraoh gave him the position of second in Command of Egypt. During the famine in Egypt Joseph came up with the prophecy of seven years lack. Meanwhile his brothers also came to Egypt in search of food. In the beginning, they did not recognize Joseph but when they recognized they were afraid of the fact that God was with Joseph who convinced them that they involved in evil deed but God make everything good. This is the story that has the characteristic of becoming a mission. After many years, Joseph declared that he was sent by God with the mission to preserve the generation and it was the mission of Lord. Thus Joseph fulfilled God’s will of becoming the missionary of Egypt.
The New Testament Example of Mission:
In New Testament, Jesus is the highest example of the person involved in missions. The example of mission in New Testament there is the incident of Samaria, where Jesus expressed his will to go. After entering Samaria, his disciples went in search of food; Jesus sat down near a well. A Samarian woman had come there to fetch the water. When Jesus referred water, she misunderstood by physical water. Jesus told her that he was talking about the water that will spring up on the inside. She asks him the reason behind asking for water from a Samarian woman as Jesus was Jew. She recognized that Jesus was crossing the spatial, spiritual and sociological barriers. Then Jesus asked her about her husband and received the answer that she had five husbands but now she was living with a man who was not her husband. While telling her about the real worship, Jesus told her that the real worship comes from within. One should worship from inside and with a true spirit. This story of New Testament has an attribute of mission.
There is another story from New Testament which reveals the mission. It is a story of Peter. Peter’s original name was Simon. The story reveals the story of vision from God in the form of unclean food. When Peter calls the food unclean, God instructed him to never call anything unclean which is made by Him. God also instructed Peter to help the three gentlemen. Peter presented the Gospel and all of them were converted. They believed that the Messiah had come for the salvation of mankind. The story is the perfect example of mission.
Nature of God & the Mission of God:
It is declared in 1 John Chapter 4, verse eight that God is love. The entire theme of the scripture is based on the love of God. God’s love is known as agape. The agape guides regarding love and relationship. Even after the fall of the man from the heaven, God showed immense love for him. Since that day, God is striving for the redemption of man. The love of God is the one and only nature of God. This love further demands that the man should have certain mission. When the person succeed in coupling His love with His mission, man comes to know that the next step of the God’s love is to fulfill his mission and for that to do the task assigned to him by the Almighty Lord. When the person reaches to the state of redemption, God expects participation of the redeemed person in his mission. His mission is the redemption of his children as He loved them a lot. God’s love is directly associated with the Mission. That is why he chose his dearest people on the earth as missionaries for the salvation and redemption of the people and the nations on the earth.
Mission Theology and two aspects of theology:
There are other two aspects of theology; Ecclesiology and Trinity
Ecclesiology is referred to as the theological study of Christian church. The Church is considered as the lasting agent of authority on the Earth. In New Testament, the church is referred to as the bride of Christ. Ecclesiology includes the following common areas:
Definition of Church
The Purpose of Church
The Rituals of Church
The Role of Church
The Role of Church Members
During the matters of discipline, Jesus used to refer his believers to the church. The saints of ministry and the gifted men were given to the church. The church used to settle various issues when the debate arouse about the inclusion of household of faith. The purposes of church included worship, teaching, fellowship and prayer. All of these purposes are closely related to the mission. It is essential to understand that the Spirit of God moves within the church for sending gifted men and women for the propagation of gospel in different parts of the world. Thus the church plays an important role in sending the agent. The church is also the place where God exercises His authority on the missionaries. The church also gives spiritual support.
Trinity is the very fundamental but at the same time very complex ideology. Trinity refers to the Triune God that is three in one. Trinity is the form or revelation of God in the form of three. It is a controversial doctrine in Christianity and still it is confusing for many Christians. Many Christian sometimes believe that they believe in three Gods, in the form of three persons; The Father, the son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit. God is the combination of these three holy powers. Trinity Sunday is the Sunday that comes on the first Sunday after Pentecost, which is one of the most festivals in Christian calendar. The doctrines of Trinity incorporate can be related to the concept of mission. The Trinity doctrine informs what God is like. It plays the pivotal role in the worship of Christian. The Trinity doctrine emphasis that God is very different from human beings. The trinity doctrines also teach the central elements of Christianity. The Trinity helps to teach to see God as a spiritual experience.
Themes or Motifs of Mission Theology
The mission theology is a biblical understanding of evangelistic outreach of the world. The Mission theology has several key themes which define its meaning. The themes or motifs include “kingdom of God”, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the church, Shalom and the returns of Jesus. The missionary is thus the concept that includes all these themes. The theme Jesus Christ is related to the mission. It was Christ who “a little before his departure, commissioned his apostles to Go, and teach all nations, to Go into the entire world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” On that day Christ talks to ordinary people whom God has chosen to fulfill the missio dei and thus each of them get the real knowledge of mission theology. It is to be pointed out the Jesus is the focal point and the major driving force behind the mission of God. The Shalom motif tends to place a high priority on the peace of Jesus in world thrust in the conflict between Christ and Satan. It is another motif of mission theology. Shalom is the Hebrew word that means peace. God is peace. Shalom or peace exists in the assumption that God is the creator and he has decided certain standard for human being. So we must accept our existence and live the way God has kept us. The peace or shalom lies in obeying God without arguing Him and showing full faith in Him. Adam and Eve could not get Shalom; it is because they did not obey God. Abraham on the contrary did everything as per the command of God.
The prophet Isaiah wrote, "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal." (Isaiah 26:3,4.) Thus the qualities of Shalom are wholeness, completeness, soundness, health, and safety.
Jesus Christ is the alone who is the main focus of all mission related activities. He is driven by the Holy Spirit to spread God’s mission. There is a close connection between the Holy Spirit and the mission of the church. “The Holy Spirit was understood mainly by divine power working in the church and in the life of the individual Christian. While the Trinitarian confession of the faith was acknowledged formally, the affirmation of the Spirit as person in communion with the Father and the Son remained largely underdeveloped.” Jesus through the Holy Spirit carries the message of reconciliation to the end of the world. The mission starts from Jerusalem and it ends with the end of the world. The Holy Spirit is like a catalyst. He is the motivator for carrying forward the mission of God.
The missionary is the concept that incorporates all pieces of missions together. All are same in mission theology regardless of their position in the church and so there is no differentiation in the understanding the knowledge of mission theology. Everyone needs to know the mission of God and thus the mission theology and the ultimate objective is to worship God. As stated in Ephesians 4:13-14, even the ordinary person deserves the divine knowledge of Jesus Christ and to understand the mission theology. The mission theology states that it is the duty of every Christian to do more than what he/she is doing. Jesus “a little before his
Departure, commissioned his apostles to Go, and teach all nations, to Go into all the
World, and preach the gospel to every creature.”
Carey, William. An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians, To Use Means for the
Conversion of the Heathens. Kindle. London, England: Leicester, 1792.
K Raiser, “Holy Spirit in Ecumenical Thought,” The Dictionary of the Educational Movement, Geneva WCC 2002. P. 534
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