Missio Dei (post 4)

Shortly after creation, Adam and Eve committed the first sin when they are deceived by the serpent to eat for the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which resulted in the separation of relationship with God, each other, and the rest of creation. This period is commonly referred to as the Fall. Even in their unfaithfulness, God did promise Eve that her offspring would crush the serpent’s head, defeating evil (Gen. 3:15). Genesis 3 onward God constantly directed the people called by his purposes to participate in the mission of God: to bless the nations and restore relationship with Him under a covenant community. This mission is even more clearly seen in Genesis 12 with Abraham, who God called to leave Ur of the Chaldeans for Canaan where God promised to make him into a great nation, and that through him “all peoples on earth” would be blessed through him. In time, God provided Abraham and Sarah a son, Isaac, who continued the family line through fathering two sons, Jacob and Esau. God chose Jacob to start the tribe of Israel, the covenant community that would bless the nations. Jacob wasn’t the most ethical guy, and his sons were pretty unfaithful by their sins of murder (Gen. 34:25-27), selling Joseph into slavery, lying to their father about Joseph’s death (Gen. 37), and incest (Gen. 38); yet God’s sovereign plan for their salvation and blessing to the nations was taken care of by Joseph. He was put in command of Egypt’s crops to prepare for a famine and they are all reunited and live together again in Egypt (Gen. 45). Next was Moses, who was by far one of the most influential old covenant saints because of his own personal redemption from the hand of Pharaoh at birth and in the plagues and exodus. Moses was able to faithfully lead the Israelites during the forty-year wandering period, preparing them for inhabiting the promise land, and relaying God’s messages to them how to be his covenant community that was to be a blessing to the nations and restore people to the LORD.
In practical terms, this portion of salvation history brings us back to my original proposal that we must have living faith, show our love for God and others through obedience and upholding God’s standards in expectation of personal and corporate holiness, and remain steadfast in the hope of God’s promises fulfilled in this life and the next. James 2:14-26 emphasizes the importance of having a living faith by showing it through deeds (2:18), “But some will say, ‘You have faith. I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show my faith by what I do.” He also refers to Abraham and Rahab as examples of those with a living faith that were convinced of the truth of God’s promises so much that they acted in trust and they were credited with righteousness (Jas. 2:23, 25). In our ministry this means that we must demonstrate faith in all our actions. “Like Moses, the responsibility of the Christian leader is to help lead God’s flock into the promises of God.”* Gaining those promises through faith is related to obedience and our standard of holiness that is shared personally and corporately by the laity and official ministers in all aspects of life. Moses was leading God’s covenant community towards God’s promises, not only by possessing land but by giving them the task of sharing God’s love with the surrounding nations that God did not direct Israel to annihilate. The only way they could be successful was through pursuing holiness and looking to their ultimate hope being in the LORD. When they let their pursuit turn into acquiring the promise land and meaningless religion and ornate tradition, they failed personally and corporately, which lead to exile. The same thing happened with Adam and Eve, once they started desiring something for themselves, it took their focus off loving God and each other, God’s actual words about the tree, and the wonderful life they had with God and so they sinned. Today this would mean working toward engaging culture and sharing the richness of our Christianity in relationship with the work of Christ, the ancient saints, and the universal church around us.
*Frank Marangos. “Leadership for the 21st Century,” Praxis Magazine, Special Issue: Clergy-Laity Congress 2010, 18.

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