Friday, July 20, 2012

Theology of Missions: Part 5 - Two Key Motifs

Mission Theology: Two Key Motifs
        A motif is a recurring element in a story that has significance. For our purposes here, motif is defined as a recurring idea that reinforces central biblical themes.[1] As specifically related to mission, there are a number of such themes that are easily identifiable. Here a brief discussion of two such motifs follows.
Motif One: Jesus
        Simply put, the Christian faith is not centered on prophets or clever sayings or the writings of wise people of old. The Christian faith is centered on the unique person Jesus Christ. Jesus embodies truth and is ultimate truth disclosed by God.[2] Jesus is central to Christianity and to the missional focus that is part and parcel to our faith.[3] When Christians want to better understand mission in His name, we turn to Jesus. It is Jesus who calls people to Himself and then sends them out to make disciples (evangelism), commands His people to obey all that He taught during his earthly ministry (discipleship), and inspires His people to keep their focus on God while living lives that bring honor and glory to Him (salt and light).[4]
Motif Two: The Return of Jesus
        The second coming of Jesus should have a tremendous impact on the way God’s people practice mission and think about missionary theology. The catastrophic events described in Scripture that will occur in the end times should drive the behavior of the church as it relates to the reaching out to the lost in the present. This has been true throughout history and will remain so until Christ returns. The fact that there are people who will spend an eternity separated from Christ should inspire evangelism which is God’s response to the fact that there are people who are separated from Christ.[5] Further, the certainty of the return of Christ should provide Christians with the motivation necessary to continue steadfastly in discipleship efforts. Finally, the return of Christ should enable Christians to persevere as salt and light in a dark, lost world remembering that after the old world has passed away, there is a new world to come.[6]

[1]  Moreau, A. Scott, R. Corwin Gary, and Gary B. McGee. Introducing World Missions: A Biblical, Historical, and Practical Survey. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004)  79.
[2] Winter, Ralph D., and Steven C. Hawthorne, eds. Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: A Reader (4th ed.). (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 1981, 1992, 1999, 2009), 184.
[3] Moreau, Gary, and McGee. (2004), 79.
[4] Ibid, 81-82.
[5] Ibid, 85.
[6] Ibid.

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