Understanding our mission: Perspectives on the purpose and functions of the church in a modern world.
-The Word of God is timeless
-God seeks relationship with people
-God is reaching out to the world today through the church
-The Gospel is STILL the power of God unto salvation.
The Bible recounts God’s journey with man and His relentless pursuit after man since man’s fall from his high and lofty position as Ruler of earth’s domain and the apex of God’s creation. From Genesis chapter 3after creation is explained, begins God’s mission to help man recapture his former glory (Redemption). Therefore for us to understand our purpose we need to go back to the start.
-Using the story of Hagar as a metaphor of understanding our purpose and functions as a church.
-The book of Genesis is so named because it presents a historical view of the advent of creation through the eyes of Moses, the author, who would have written the book some years after his own birth. Through the revelation of God, Moses penned the story of Abraham, Sarah and her hand maid Hagar in the accounts given in Genesis 16 and 21.
These stories are rather interesting since it presents two focal characteristics of the God of the Bible (which becomes our mandate).
1.He concerns himself with the needs of people and seeks to bring change.
2.He is a God of justice
One innocent mistake that many persons who read these stories make is that they read the story from the top down; in other words from the point of view of the advantaged, Abraham and Sarai. But the story is actually told from the stand point of the one who was at the disadvantage, Hagar. (Hagar, the bondwoman, represents the world).
In highlighting the situation of Hagar, two crucial and interrelated points can be discovered.
1.In the first case it points to the fact that God is a God who locates himself in the desert (the desperate positions that people find themselves).
2.A second point can be seen and that is that true justice is an ideology that originates from the standpoint of the oppressed – those who are downtrodden and have had that justice ripped from their grasp and reach.
How God feels about injustice?
1.In Isaiah chapter 1, God in reproving the nation of Israel for their sins, gave the nation the conditions of repentance.
2.The promotion of justice took three distinct forms: ‘Give the oppressed reason to celebrate! Take up the cause of the orphan! Defend the rights of the widow!’ It should be noted that these stipulations were a part of the conditions for repenting. Due care and consideration had to be given to the orphans, the widows and the poor.
Any nation or church that neglects these groups of people in the society is guilty of injustice (Ezekiel 16:48-50;James 1:27; 2:14-17).
The heart of God when it comes to the poor and the oppressed has always been the same. When Jesus came to earth he carried the same ideological gene as his father and his quest to liberate the poor carried him to the cross. Luke 4: 18 gives his mission statement, the first part being “to proclaim good news to the poor.” What better news could the poor receive but news of an end to their oppression and poverty? As Christians this still remains our mission, to bring liberation and freedom to the poor and plead the cause of the oppressed.
our understanding of salvation as a church needs to be reformed. We can no longer think of salvation as going to heaven since there are implications for the here and now. We need to start to think :
4.Preach the Gospel (Good News of God’s grace)
God will support a church that remains true to His mission.
Finally to Challenge the idiosyncrasies of this post modern world, the church needs to know how to let go of traditions of men (Asceticism) and ONLY uphold the absolutes of scripture. Our un-biblical (Euro-centric/anti-African) traditions have made us obsolete to an emerging generation.