God’s Mission and Our Mission of Reconciliation
God’s mission through Christ is to reconcile all things back to himself (Colossians 1:20). This begins when he “reconciled us to himself through Christ,” and continues when we, as his “ambassadors,” perform “the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:17-20).
The Hebraic understanding is that “God is One” which undergirds the Christian view is that Jesus Christ is the Lord of all things.
The problem, however, is that the evangelical Church in North America has embraced a Greek (Plato and Aristotle) understanding of reality that separates the sacred from the secular. This false worldview led to the Gnostic heresy of the early Church, and in the 21st Century, the North American evangelical Church accepts a neo-gnostic understanding of reality. Alan Roxburgh writes, “Gnostic movements have always sought to dematerialize and spiritualize Jesus, limiting God’s engagement to some inner, spiritual experience that is disembodied from most of the public and material engagement of the world.”
Here N. T. Wright explains the gnostic heresy:
Alan Hirsch correctly states, “There is no such thing as sacred and secular in biblical worldview. It can conceive of no part of the world that does not come under the claim of Yahweh’s lordship.”
The evangelical Church has neglected the Hebraic understanding of life in favor of the dualistic view that separates the secular from the sacred. Instead of seeing its ministry in terms of “the reconciliation of all things,” it sees its ministry in terms of growing and managing its own institutional life. As Alan Hirsch points out, it sees its ministry as the “mediating institution” between the sacred and the secular. The diagram below shows this mistaken idea of the church’s mediating position between the sphere of God and the sphere of the world.
If we are to revitalize our ministry of reconciliation, we must no longer see the church as a mediating institution. Rather, we must see our ministry as the equipping and empowering of God’s people to be God’s agents of the reconciliation of all things back to God in Christ. Jesus is Lord of all.
(diagrams adapted from Alan Hirsch, The Forgotten Ways)