A question I ponder when NT Wright mentioned in his book, “Surprised by Hope”, What then will the church look like as it moves from renewed worship into renewed mission?
NT Wright explains:
The mission of the church is nothing more or less than the outworking, in the power of the Spirit, of Jesus’s bodily resurrection and thus the anticipation of the time when God will fill the earth with his glory, transform the old heavens and earth into the new, and raise his children from the dead to populate and rule over the redeemed world he has made.
If that is so, mission must urgently recover from its long-term schizophrenia. As I have said before, the split between saving souls and doing good in the world is a product not of the Bible or the gospel but of the cultural captivity of both with the Western World.
The world of space, time, and matter is where real people live, where real communities happen, where difficult decisions are taken, where schools and hospitals bear witness to the “now, already” of the gospel while police and prisons bear witness to the “not yet.”
A church that is renewed by the message of Jesus’s resurrection must be the church that goes to work precisely in that space, time, and matter and claims it in advance as the place of God’s kingdom, of Jesus’s lordship, of the power of the Spirit.
A mission-shaped church must have its mission shaped by its hope; that the genuine Christian hope, rooted in Jesus’s 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.
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 is the anticipation of the eventual goal and the implementation of what Jesus achieved in his death and resurrection. That is the way both to the genuine mission of God and to the shaping of the church by and for that mission.