/Monday, January 17, 2022
The Bible is a story about God on mission and God on mission with his people.
The first two chapters of the Scripture describe the perfect creation of God, and the last two chapters end with the restoration of this creation.
In between these four chapters is the story of the distorted creation with humanity struggling with the consequences of sin but interposed with God’s unrelenting redemption. This redemption is not just a passive rescue but with an associated invitation of the redeemed to be agents for the future redemptive work of God, through covenants with Noah, Abram, Moses, King David, but epitomizes in Jesus Christ in the new covenant, a reality foreshadowed by all other covenants.
The Abrahamic Covenant & The Great Commission
The Abrahamic covenant articulates the grand redemptive purpose of God “…and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Gen. 12:3b).
The nation of Israel, the descendants of the family of Abraham, is the chosen people of God to be his priest for the nations (Ex. 19:5-6), and this motif of Israel as a showcase for God to the nations is ubiquitously recurring in the wording of “nations” throughout the whole Old Testament books except Jonah, Song of Songs, Ruth, Ecclesiastes, Esther, and Ezra.
The promise of Abraham as the father of all nations is fulfilled in his seed, that is Christ (Gal. 3:16), who is to inherit the nations and possess the ends of the earth (Ps. 2:8). However, the actualization of this promise has yet to be completed by the chosen people of God today, the church, to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19a).
How far has the church of Christ achieved in his great commission? If we adopt the notion of the nations (panta ta ethne) as the “hidden peoples that are unreached”, coined by Ralph Winter, we are far from accomplishing what Christ commissioned us to prepare for his return (Matt. 28: 20b, 24:14). Whether our mission strategy is focused on the so-called “unreached people groups” or is carried on with discipleship in the same or cross-cultural contexts, regardless of their reached status, the key is to mobilize all God’s people to be aware that Christian living is about worshipping God expressed in being on mission with him.
On Mission … Right Here in Canada
The global migration of peoples of different cultures and ethnicities is not a coincidence but the intention of God to let the nations seek him (Acts 17:26-27).
To this end, I believe local churches play a crucial role in bringing the nations to God, right here in the nation of Canada.
Traditionally, local churches are not short of an effort to reach people of different cultures and religions through overseas missionary work but there does not seem to be an equally balanced emphasis placed on reaching the local community of newcomers God has brought to our neighborhood.
The church of Christ is supposed to be the salt and light of the world through the transformation of individual Christ-followers, to bring in societal and national changes that would be consistent with the values of the kingdom of God. Instead, we see our nation of Canada drifting away towards secularism and religious plurality. To the increasingly growing communities of different cultures and religions, the churches of Canada could respond in two ways.
- They could either remain the status quo and let these communities develop into distinct religious groups and institutions, with growing influence transnationally, offering another religious alternative to the already pluralistic Canada. This pluralistic expression could even see non-Christian religions being considered as a parallel partner with Christian churches to seek the truth.
- On the other hand, the church of Canada could take an active role to pray for and engage with these significantly growing communities.
If we respond in the latter way, the engagement does not need to remain at a theological and polemical debate.
It could begin with the intentions of Christ's followers to establish friendship with these newcomers. They are right amid our daily living, as neighbours, fellow students, co-workers, gym acquaintances, convenience store retailers, and many others.
There are no such things as an organized mega-ministry as Hindu Ministry, Muslim Ministry, or Buddhist Ministry, but there is always a way to do ministry with all these individuals, and it starts with you and me, our intention to witness Christ to them through our friendships!
Alfred Chui practiced physical therapy for over 25 years before he joined North Edmonton Alliance Church in 2009, first as the English Pastor & then in 2013 as the Senior Pastor. In 2019, Alfred & his wife Charis relocated to Richmond, B.C. and Alfred joined Outreach Canada as the Simply Mobilizing (SM) Canada Chinese Language Coordinator - implementing, maintaining and expanding the Kairos and other SM courses to mobilize Canadian Chinese diaspora Christians and their next generations to reach and disciple all nations.
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