On Good Friday, Jesus faces a major stage of the battle to usher in the Kingdom and become the first of the new creation God as promised. Defeating the decay, the death, disease and disruption of God’s created order, he moves towards the cross and becomes the narrowest section of the sand timer, bringing one era to a close and announcing the next, absorbing the suffering and death in himself before a resounding restart for all.
There is no greater motivation for mission. Mission is not just about personal salvation and pie in the sky when you die. The mission of God is the restoration of all things, in all places, in all ways until it reaches its completeness through the return of Christ and the New Heaven and New Earth.
Right there is the reason for living. We are to recognise, co-create, and work towards helping the world see God’s reign, his Kingdom breaking increasingly through. We’re not in the business of getting scalps for our religious brand, but in alerting to people to the reign of Christ and helping them to step into that Kingdom life themselves.
There are so many beautiful signs of God’s reign in the world. There are so many ugly signs of ‘broken shalom’ and so, like the Suffering Servant Messiah, we are to become co-workers with the Creator.
In the beautiful chapter of Isaiah 61, we see the role of any Kingdom revealer who would follow in the way of the Messiah…our mandate right there. No need to wonder what the call of God is, just needed willingness to obey and act.
“They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.”
I’ve spend many years of my life walking the devastated cities of the UK and they continue to be my calling I can’t escape from. God’s kingdom needs to be revealed everywhere, but no more so that in the places where devastation still reigns supreme, or so it seems.
The thought of returning to ‘compassionate ministry’ is daunting at times, especially after 6 fairly cushy years in well resourced churches…I mean, just look at the word ‘compassionate’…it means ‘with (com) suffering (passion)’. To enter into the suffering of the other and nurture the hope of the Kingdom.
As a Salvation Army officer I covenanted my life thus:
I BIND MYSELF TO HIM IN THIS SOLEMN COVENANT
|to love and serve him supremely all my days,
to live to win souls and make their salvation the first purpose of my life,
to care for the poor, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, love the unlovable, and befriend those who have no friends.
…and whilst there is little chance of me doing that within The Salvation Army, it is what my life is ultimately about. All the circumstances of life have brought us back, full circle, to this one thing: to walk with Jesus into the mess of the world, whatever the cost.
It is worth it to see transformation in just one life, all worth it. But God willing, we’ll see many others.
Community Connections will be the main piece of work I’ll undertake in Newcastle, from which I hope many other possibilities will spring, as we work with others to see God’s Kingdom reign revealed in that place, little by little.