“As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you” (John 20:21).
These words of Jesus to his post-resurrection disciples surely authorize—and in fact, provide—an imperative for mission. But what does “as” really mean? Perhaps more than we imagine at first glance. “As the has Father sent me” signifies not only that the Father sent Jesus, but perhaps that how Jesus was sent is important.
In this issue of Lausanne World Pulse we offer insight on the topic of building a solid foundation for mission policy and praxis. Jesus brought a thorough theological foundation to his missional focus. Do we? On several levels we ask such questions in this issue, and our authors guide us in finding biblical and relevant answers. You will value the articles by Samuel Escobar, Enoch Era, and Jim Harries. Each opened new vistas of thought for me.
My meager offering on the topic comes from the wonderful work of Dr. Christopher Wright titled The Mission of God.1 In it, Wright calls us to do thorough biblical reading and reflection of the mission of God from the scriptures. This isn’t a new idea, but he argues that we can’t understand the mission of God by depending on only the New Testament (and especially the Book of Acts) for our theology of mission. Rather, Jesus had—and this is where my use of John 20:21 comes in—a far deeper knowledge of the message and meaning of God in the Old Testament than we do. I confess that my preaching on the evangelism and mission of God in every place I go is derived primarily from the New Testament. Wright brings necessary improvement by asking us to see the mission of God as a controlling theme in the whole of scripture. He goes so far as to suggest we consider the “missional basis of the Bible” more than we do the “biblical basis of mission.”
In other words, our God is a missional God and the whole canon points to his relentless activity to save and redeem people and all of creation. This understanding may indeed help us to determine the “as the has Father sent me” passage. I concur with Wright. The mission of God is more than “a” theme of scripture. It is “the” theme of scripture. If this is the case, then we are allowed to be passionate for a lost world, just as Jesus was. We are allowed to be tireless in our pursuit of a lost world, just as Jesus was. We are allowed to be devoted to the whole plan of God for the redemption of souls and societies, just as Jesus was.
We hope you value this issue of Lausanne World Pulse as much as we delight and are passionate to bring it to you.
1. Wright, Christopher. 2006. The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative. Downers Grove, Illinois, USA: InterVarsity Press.