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Mission in the Midst of Madness (Part 2)

Mission in the Midst of Madness (Part 2)

In my last post I pointed out that violence should not surprise us, as it does not surprise God who is familiar with it from the beginning. Today, I would like to share that Christian missions, too, was born in dreadful violence and calls us to diligently engage in God’s mission.

In the last days of his earthly ministry, Jesus was pursued by men who wanted to see him dead. At Passover, in his last journey to the Temple in Jerusalem, Jesus was so enraged by what he saw there that he got violent as he cleansed the temple. The spiritual and physical degradation of the people of God was at display in all its brazenness in the temple—“a house of prayer for all the nations”—turned into “a den of robbers” (Mark 11: 17). While Jesus’ startling behavior infuriated the religious leaders of the day, the common people responded by flocking to him. In Jesus, they saw a prophet who would restore the temple as “a house of prayer for all the nations” (Mark 11: 17-18). Jesus’ aggressive actions, however, also forced the Jewish leaders to act on their violent intentions against him that finally led to his execution at Calvary.

Jesus Christ suffered one of the most gruesome last hours on his journey to the cross at Calvary. Mel Gibson’s famous Hollywood film, The Passion of the Christ (2004), helps us understand some of that torture inflicted on Jesus and yet we will never fully fathom what a vicious death Jesus died for us.

It is in this violence, suffering, and his death on the cross, that Christian mission was born. Without the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we do not have any good news to share and no reason to call humanity to be restored and reconciled to God and to fellow human beings. Without the death of Jesus on the cross, there is no hope for the chaotic world. And this, I submit, is the greatest paradox of Christian mission: that God, in his sovereignty, would let Calvary become the fountain of our salvation, restoration, reconciliation, and eternal peace! Yes, I know, it is incomprehensible. Nevertheless, it is the Lord’s doing and it’s marvelous in our eyes.

Therefore, in the context of violence today, the followers of Jesus Christ who are also called to be witnesses of his death and resurrection, must take courage and strength from this paradox. We, who are his witnesses, should not be surprised by the violence and also should not shy away from sharing the good news. Let the violence around us not deter or overwhelm us from sharing and persuading people into restoration, salvation, and reconciliation. Let us persistently look unto God, the author and finisher of our salvation, and trust him to turn the violence and suffering into something beautiful for his Kingdom, because only God alone can do it. So, while it is easy to sing “I’ll cling to the old rugged cross” sitting in our comfortable pews of cathedrals, but very difficult to take the message of the cross to a violent and hurting world outside. However, the Great Commission of the One who died on the cross is not to sit and sing alone but to “go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation” (Mark 16: 15).

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Mission in the Midst of Madness


Mission in the Midst of Madness

Just a few days into the New Year and we have already witnessed the brutal killing of writers and cartoonists inside their office by Islamic terrorists. Another more gruesome killing, which the western media did not cover as much, happened almost at the same time in Nigeria. A terrorist organization, Boko Haram, which had captured at least 300 girls, is now reported to have slayed over 100 innocent people and torched about 16 villages in Nigeria. These are just two major incidents in the first week of this New Year. Many more around the world are now going through some of the most gruesome violence either for their faith or for no apparent fault of their own. It’s in this context that we as Christians are called to take part in, and carry out the Missio Dei— mission of God.

Mission is always done in context; otherwise, mission has neither relevance nor any meaning. Our context of livid violence by human beings against each other challenges us to reflect on how we are to participate in God’s mission. First and foremost, let us not despair by what we see around us. This should not surprise us as we live in a fallen world marred by sin and violence. However, in this mad world, God, the one who calls us to missions, remains the same—the Unchanging One. Remember, when God began his act of creation the world was in a chaos (Genesis 1: 1-3). The earth was formless, in disorder, in darkness, and void. Over this chaos, God declared: “Let there be light” and there was light! From this day on, God’s Word has been creating order, meaning, light, and life in our world. And God is still alive. He is still on His throne. God is still on this mission of restoring wayward humanity to Himself. And what’s more important is that God calls us puny mortals to come with nothing but faith to participate in this mission of restoration and reconciliation. We need to call people to trust in this creator God by persuading them through both our words and deeds. Nothing else but the love of Christ should constrain us to be engaged in this calling. In the words of Apostle Paul,

“Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others; ….For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them” ( II Corinthians 5: 11-15).

It is our privilege to participate in God’s mission of restoration and reconciliation, as this is the need of the hour today more than ever. The context in which we are living in makes this mission even more meaningful and relevant than anything else in the world. It is more important than the numbers we seek, more important than church growth, and more important than our own little kingdoms, name and fame. In these words of Apostle Paul, our mission today as ambassadors of God, is calling people not to ourselves but to God alone:

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (II Corinthians 5: 18-20).

I hope to reflect on mission and violence further… stay tuned! 🙂

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