Mission is not one thing we do among others. Mission is central to the Bible story and central to our identity. We are missionary people. We are communities on mission.
Creation: God made humanity with a mission: (1) to fill and govern the earth, and (2) to be his image in the world, reflecting his glory. We create, we explore, we investigate, we cook, we clean, we repair, we do science and culture and art – all to the glory of God.
Fall: After our rebellion our mission distorts and turns inwards. At Babel humanity (1) comes together instead of being scattered (2) to a name for themselves instead of glorifying God (Genesis 11:4).
Abraham: ‘All peoples on earth will be blessed through you.’ (Genesis 12:3) God chooses Abraham for the nations. The Saviour will come from Abraham’s descendants. See Genesis 18:18-19. The nations will be blessed as God’s people walk in his ways and ‘do’ justice. People will look on and see it is good to know God.
Exodus: ‘Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ (Exodus 19:5-6) Priests made God known and brought people to God through sacrifice. In the same way, the nation is to make God known. They are to be holy (distinctive) as God is holy – the place on earth where people could see what God is like. See also Deuteronomy 4:5-8. So the law has a missional goal: to shape the life of Israel so the nations are drawn to God.
Israel: ‘Men of all nations came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom’ (1 Kings 4:34). But ultimately Israel follows the ways of the nations and is drawn away from God instead of following the ways of God and drawing the nations to God.
Prophecy: See Isaiah 2:2-5 (60:1-3). One day the nations will stream to Mount Zion in Jerusalem to learn God’s ways as God’s people walk in his light. The ‘servant of the Lord’ will be light to the nations that Israel had failed to be (Isaiah 42:6; 49:6).
Jesus: ‘I am the light of the world’ (John 8:12).
The church: Because Jesus has been given authority over the nations, he sends his disciples out to call on the nations to submit to that authority (Matthew 28:18-20). See Matthew 5:13-16. The rag-bag community of Jesus is to be the light to the world that Israel failed to be, the city on a hill promised by Isaiah. so ‘let your light shine before men’ and bring praise to God. See 1 Peter 2:9. The church is now the kingdom of priests and holy nation which makes God known to the nations. So ‘live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us’ (12).
New creation: People from all nations worship the Lamb together and find healing in the new creation (Revelation 7:9-10; 22:2).
Jesus began his ministry by proclaiming the good news of God’s coming kingdom (Mark 1:14-15). But people don’t believe God’s rule is good news. They think they’re better off without God. We believe the Serpent’s lie that God’s rule is oppressive and restrictive (Genesis 3:5). We are to so live together under God’s reign that people see that God’s reign is good news, a reign of life, love, freedom, justice and joy.