By Sheryl Haw
Every generation needs to routinely take time to research, enquire and envision on how the Gospel is impacting the church and the world today.
Looking back through recent history we owe a great deal to those who inspired such spaces for reflection and obediently initiated the change that was needed. Responding to a perceived deficit or gap often requires an intentional focus on the missing need, at times to the expense of or the forfeiting of other important aspects. Hence the constant need to humbly walk together before God seeking his direction and focus remains the anchor we need to adhere to.
We are grateful for those who initiated “rethinking” processes. Rethinking mission, rethinking church, rethinking discipleship, rethinking …… We recognise the importance of movements that have stimulated the process of change and transformation, both within global and national contexts. We earnestly encourage the ongoing reflections and courage for change that will always be needed until Christ returns.
And what of today? What disquiet and unease is God’s Spirit prompting us to address? What structures and traditions, and ways of doing things do we need to lay down in order for the new to be released?
In a world so hungry for:
- individual success, at the expense of family, community, morality, humanity and environment well being
- love, of anything or anyone that addictively and temporarily fills this need
- status and position, a constant need to be affirmed, praised, sort after, wanted, admired, envied.
- charismatic, larger than life leaders who will sell a lie so convincingly that even the church signs up for it.
What is our response?
For me the teaching and practice of integral mission has and continues to be a catalyst that prompts us to continually seek God and his transforming Spirit to help us discern what next steps we need to take.
I am convinced that the Gospel is the power to transform all things in heaven and earth in Christ.
- To end wars and to reconcile people – only the Gospel has the power to heal the pain, restore all the years the locusts have eaten, and to bring those who were once enemies together as family
- To redeem and restore the devastating impact of climate change – heal the land, turn back the droughts and enable the land, flora and fauna, to flourish
- To fill the hungry with good food
- To bring justice and mercy to all, especially those who have been oppressed and exploited and abused
- To bring hope and joy to life, especially to those who have robbed of this
- To bring community and fellowship to those who have been isolated, marginalised and alone
- To bring healing and wholeness to all those who our broken hearted and diseased
- To bring life is all its fullness – Shalom
- To know our God personally and corporately and to walk with Him in the cool of the day
The unease I believe the Spirit of God is prompting us to act on is our unbelief in the Gospel. We have either:
- Preferred to imagine an escape plan
from all the troubles in the world
- Immediate: churches becoming “safe” zones from the world
- Future: Jesus’ return will take us all elsewhere for a new start
- Spiritualised: the signs of the world end has to come before Christ returns…
- Preferred to imagine we can
make things good by doing good alone
- Immediate: aid delivery gives a temporary reprieve and has a feel-good factor
- Future: Jesus’ return will complete what we have started,
- Spiritualised: Mobilise all to do good so that when Christ returns, we will be rewarded
- Prefer not to imagine and comfortable to just live for today and do enough to ease our guilt.
No matter how much we teach and act with an integral mission perspective, unless we believe that the Gospel is the power to change lives and situations we will remain in the tension of the above.
The compulsion to proclaim the Gospel that we read about in the Bible comes from the experienced belief in its power to liberate, redeem, restore and reconcile.
The compulsion to do good works we read about in the Bible comes from experiencing the Good News and loving as Christ loves us.
I believe we need to ask God to fan into flame our first love, be prepared to face opposition, commit to lives of integrity and holiness, to stand against injustice in all its forms, to stop all forms of spiritual hypocrisy – be authentic and obedient to Christ, to take time to strengthen ourselves in God’s Word, and to repent and act today in keeping with all that God has called us to as the Body of Christ.
I believe this needs to happen to every believer, every church, every organisation and college. We need to fall in love again. Then, God will show us the new wineskins he has prepared for us for today.