Yesterday in my introduction to practical theology class we had a conversation about the role of Christians in the world. Have you ever really stopped to ask that question... What's our role, our job, our calling? Can it be specified?
There were alot of ideas floating around the room. One student said that our task is to live separate or "other" from the world. One said Christians should worship. He quoted Matt Redman "the only reason there are missions is because there is no worship." Our professpor was sifting through alot of these ideas trying to get us to really think hard about them. She just had to ask me...
I have been thinking alot on this question lately, what's our task?
How can we answer this question without first asking what the work of God is in the world. Is God's work now just to be worshipped or to judge us for being "of the world?" To me the Bible is a story of God's work in the world. If we sum up the bible (very very generally) it starts out with everything being "good" and god walking with His peoplein the garden saying "go... subdue the earth... eat any fruit except one..." He gives Man the creative authority on the earth. Sin enters in and screws everything up. In the end (revelation 21-22) everything is good again. Everything between Genesis 1-2 and Revelation 21-22 is all messed up and God is promising and leading His people to "salvation," to the good that He intended for us to live in. We still live between Genesis 1-2 and Revelation 21-22. Everything is still messed up but the cross has defeated sin and the curse. God's work in the world is reconciliation, healing, restoration, and salvation. God is not just sitting and waiting, He's working. our task as Followers of Christ (who is God) is to join Him in His work, it's to be his disciples who do and live by His Way. The Bible says we have been given the "ministry of reconciliation" (2Corinthians 5:18). The mission is not to separate from the world, that's selfish nor is it even to save or free the world. It's to reconcile it... what do I mean it's not to save or free the world? It's already free, it's already saved it just doesn't realize it. Our jub is it show what Christ has already done to the world. When we are living in this freedom and living in this salvation that God offeres we are in the purest definition of the word worshipping God, we are joining Him in the task.
Our role is to implement the cross wherever it isn't. We are showing freedom where there is slavery, healing where people are sick, loving wherever there's no love, acceptin where there is no acceptance. We are to live out Jesus Way of living. God is restoring the world, everything, to the way He originally intended it to be.
One of my friends brought up a good argument to me about my point of view, he said, "if God's only purpose is to make things right then He'll disapear when the job is done." That's true if all God is is a handyman. God is so much more. What was God's work in the world in Genesis 1? Was it making things right? well in a way, it was making things period. God's work at one time was not reconciliation because it was all "good." God's work was creation and He did finish the job... did He disappear? There's a dangerouse mentality that God should be narrowed down to one function, that His job doensnt adapt. There are many people who believe God made us then left us because His only function was to create. If you remember in Genesis God did something very profound on the seventh day, we can learn alot from the seventh day, He rested.... He rested.
God declared that day holy, the day He rested. He didn't dissappear, He rested. When the work was all finished...
When God's work of reconciliation is finished He will rest again and it will be a Holy Day and we will live with Him in holy rest. I'm not talking about a nap or a sleep I'm talking about a sabbath... In Jewish tradition the sabbath was a day to live and enjoy your favorite people, your family. They would work their whole week for this day, so that they could enjoy it and live it. This is why it's so powerful for god to call us His family. God is working for the day He can live with and enjoy His favorite people, His family. If your understanding of heaven does not wrap itself in this Idea, if your understanding of worship is obligation and commitment and not "holy rest" resting in God and giving for God's enjoyment then I think your understanding may not be as full as you think.
We are not working for restoration for the work as an end in itself we are working for the end result of restoration.
So I agree with my friend about worship, but our worship is the work of reconciliation, it's living in the reality of God's promise.
True religion is to take care of needs around us and "open [our] eyes to the need right outside [our] doors. Our hearts need to break with the things that break the heart of God." (Youth Builder by Jim Burns and Mike Devries).
"Because of thirst the infants toung sticks to the roof of it's mouth; the children beg for bread, but no one gives it to them... Those killed by the sword are better off than those who die of famine; racked with hunger, they waste away for lack of food from the field."
Lamentations 4:4 and 4:9
This is the cry of our world, if God work, if our role has no answer to this cry then it's not worth living for but the beauty is that it does answer this cry and that's what makes our task worth dying for.