God’s Mission and Our Mission of Reconciliation
People in the current culture have watched the Church’s dualistic approach to life (see my last post) and have determined that we are sheltered and out-of-touch.
David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, in their essential book, Unchristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity…and Why it Matters write,
“Outsiders think Christianity is out of tune with the real-world choices, challenges, and lifestyles they face. Only one-fifth of young outsiders believe that an active faith helps people live a better, more productive life.” (p. 122)
This is a sad indictment on the Church. If we would have had a positive witness through our mission of reconciliation, there would be no doubt that an active faith has a direct impact on all of life.
This is the very definition of the Kingdom of God: it is God’s way to a better, more productive life (though the good life of the Kingdom of God does not align well with the ill-defined “good life” of the kingdom of this world). Jesus explained that he was sent to “proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God” (Luke 4:43).
In our twenty-first century culture, the desire of people outside of the Church is to see their lives have meaning and purpose. According to a report from the federal Corporation for National and Community Service, college student volunteering increased by 20 percent between 2002 and 2005, more than doubling the growth in the adult volunteering rate. 3.3 million college students volunteered in 2005, almost 600,000 more students than three years before.
People in today’s culture, without even knowing it, are seeking to do Kingdom work, but are like sheep without a shepherd. James K. A. Smith, in his new excellent book, Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation, writes
“To be human is to desire ‘the kingdom,’ some version of the kingdom, which is the aim of our quest. Every one of us is on a kind of Arthurian quest for ‘the Holy Grail,’ that hoped for, longed-for, dreamed-of picture of the good life—the realm of human flourishing—that we pursue without ceasing.” (p. 54).
What can we do to offer people in our culture the Kingdom of God?
More in this series next week. We will explore the relation between the Kingdom of God and the Church. The temptation for the church has always been to identify its own existence and institutional life with the kingdom of God. When that occurs, the existence of the church tends to take priority over the mission of the kingdom of God.