The Mission of God is the committed participation of God’s people in the purposes of God for the redemption of the whole creation. –Christopher Wright, The Mission of God
WATCH: CRM-US President Sam Metcalf speaks on the mission of God
There’s a lot of conversation in the heady regions of theological reflection today—out there in the seminary realm and missiological realm—of what’s called the “mission of God.” In Latin you may have heard the term, the “missio dei.” It’s quite simply this: the committed participation of God’s people in the purposes of God for the redemption of the whole creation. As believers, it’s what we’re all called into, all invited into.
The mission of God must be firmly rooted in our understanding of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God, meaning the reign and rule of Jesus over all of the created order, both the natural and the supernatural. In the New Testament, the good news that Jesus came proclaiming was the good news of the Kingdom. There are tons of passages about that: the Kingdom is come, it’s broken in, it’s present. The Kingdom has been inaugurated; it has not been consummated. We’re living in the in-between time. That’s why healing is not 100%, that’s why we have the world, the flesh and the devil that are in this in-between time. For most of us, we underestimate how powerful this Kingdom’s breaking in has been. But what does Jesus himself say in the second sentence of the Lord’s prayer? Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We rattle that off, don’t we? Let’s put it this way. Jesus is saying, “Here’s what I want to have happen! I want the Kingdom—the reign and rule of Jesus—to be as evident, and powerful, and clear in the present universe as it is in heaven." That’s here and now. The in-breaking of the Kingdom.
The Kingdom of God is the reign and rule of Jesus over all of the created order.
So let’s put these two together. The mission of God is to bring the Kingdom of God into reality—into our reality. It’s all about the in-breaking of the Kingdom into every aspect of human experience, into the dimensions in which we live. And to redeem it all. The mission of God is seeing everything that was made wrong by the fall of mankind and making it right again, under the rule of the King of the Kingdom. And it’s all possible, it’s all made effectual, because of the death and resurrection of Jesus. That legally makes it all work. The mission of God, whereby we bring the Kingdom of God to bear—we bring it to bear psychologically, socially, environmentally, politically, economically, educationally, physically—and it’s all able to be done because of what Jesus did on the cross.
At the very core of the mission of God is what we around CRM call the human redemptive priority. There are lots of really powerful, important things that happen when the Kingdom of God breaks in. There can be physical healing, emotional healing, the healing of creation (creation care and ecological healing). It can mean meeting the needs of the poor and the oppressed, it can mean social justice, peacemaking, saving men and women from the sex trade. It can mean making things right with law and in business, in government, and on. That’s all the in-breaking of the Kingdom. But—this is the important point—at its heart, the most important aspect of the in-breaking of the Kingdom is the human redemptive priority, whereby human beings are redeemed and made right with God. Where people become fully committed followers of Jesus—in other words, disciples. The Great Commission and plenty of other passages speak to the human redemptive priority—when people become faithful, committed followers of Jesus, the King of the Kingdom. Unless that happens, the Kingdom is not fully present.
The most important aspect of the in-breaking of the Kingdom is the human redemptive priority, whereby human beings are redeemed and made right with God.
So while there are a lot of things that are valuable in the mission of God, seeing people become followers of Jesus is ultimate. That’s what we aim at. That is the bottom line. All that we do around CRM contributes to that end. We believe unapologetically that the best way for that mission to be accomplished and the human redemptive priority to be fulfilled, is to create, sustain, and multiply gospel movements. We believe that movements of the gospel are the best means afforded us to see the mission of God accomplished—so that the name of Jesus is worshipped, adored, glorified, and exalted, among all the nations and all the peoples of the earth.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sam Metcalf has served as the president of CRM-US since 1985. His passion for leadership development, discipleship, and the spread of the good news of Jesus around the world has led CRM into over 85 countries and a variety of innovative ministry models contributing to contemporary movements of the gospel. He and his wife, Patty, are based in Fullerton, CA. They have two adult children and four grandchildren.
Want to hear more from Sam Metcalf? You can download a key chapter from his book, Beyond the Local Church: How Apostolic Movements Can Change the World.