Everyone is quite familiar with the Mission of Christ in the world when God has sent Him to save mankind from all sin and become the Messiah. However, if one is asked about what God’s Mission is to the world; many often speculate this as they are uncertain of His Mission for mankind and for the world He has created. Many noted that God’s faithful Mission is to watch over us and teach us His Will, but there is more to this Mission that everyone must understand and identify. Upon reading the Old and New Testaments, the themes that would lead one to understand what God’s Mission is for the world can be identified through particular passages and situations noted on the books. But how would this Mission affect world churches such as the modern Australian Church? This paper would identify and discuss the Mission of God through the passages in the Old and New Testament and the themes corresponding to this Mission. This paper would also discuss the implications of the Mission of God to the contemporary Australian Church as an example of discussing the effects it has on the teachings of the Church.
Mission of God
When one comes across the question “Who is God for them?” they could present a lot of definitions on what they think God is. To some, they would revere God as the Supreme Being that has created the whole universe in seven days. Some would note that He is the Loving, Caring, Sympathetic and Ever-Forgiving God that watches over us and guides us away from the darkness of our hearts. Many would state that He is the only Divine Being that everyone must obey and worship. This answer may vary if one comes from another religion, but all would agree that this God is a very special being that connects every one of us. But if one is asked the question “What do you think is God’s Personal Mission to us and to the world?” the answers may be unclear and even not be answered at all. This paper would try to answer this particular question by identifying and discussing the Mission of God through the passages in the Old and New Testament and the themes corresponding to this Mission. This paper would also discuss the implications of the Mission of God to the contemporary Australian Church as an example of discussing the effects it has on the teachings of the Church.
According to Jennings (2003), the mission of God can be traced from the first book of the Old Testament; the Book of Genesis. In summary, the first book tells readers how God began to create the world and the lives of the first humans He has watched, tested and protected. But looking closely in the first few chapters of the book, God presented his plans and mission for the world he has created in the first eleven chapters of this particular book. Jennings cited that God’s love is concentrated to His creations, especially in man; specifying his mission that He wishes to have a personal relationship and understanding with them like a father with his children. This mission of God also leans on connecting every one of His children into Him as one race as one family, the common theme in God’s endless will to fulfill His goal and in His creation of His Kingdom that would unite each nation into His belief. One can see this particular theme and mission of God in Genesis 3:15 stating that “God’s purpose is to unite the human race to Him through one of its own members”. Of course, this desire and mission of God has been tested when man decided to create a Tower of Babel in Chapter 11 of the book to reach and be God themselves. In response to this action, God changed their languages and scattered them in different parts of the world before restarting His mission in connecting everyone into Him and the coming of the Kingdom of God through a closer and personal relationship through His will. This recurring story of man’s desire in the latter chapters of the Bible did not hinder God at all in His personal mission to create one big family with Him as the Father.
Jennings also cited that God’s mission of bringing everyone closer to Him will be done through one nation, which He will bless then this blessing would be transferred to all the people living in the world. He states that the Kingdom of God would stem from this one nation and continue to influence other nations to be one race like in the beginning. This is then cited in the story of Abraham in Genesis 12: 1-3 as Abraham has been chosen to serve as the father of God’s people and connect them to Him. Despite Abraham’s idolatry and almost agnostic ways that God does not want His people to practice, he is still blessed by God and God said to him :
“I will make you a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great and you will be a blessing. I will bless you and whoever curses you I will curse; and all people on the earth will be blessed through you”
But the question now goes “Why choose this particular race to help Him fulfill His mission of creating the Kingdom of God?” comes to play. Why did God choose one nation out of all the nations He has created to help Him fulfill His goal. Love (1941) stressed that this choice is not meant to show favoritism God has to this particular race as He loves us equally and without bounds. He notes that God only chose one race to fill this race a sense of His will, teachings and love and let this particular race to teach the rest of the world, symbolizing Man’s original purpose to be the managers of God’s creations. Love also notes that this choice God has made proves that God gives man their purpose and mission in life.
In Kaiser’s thesis (2000), God’s call to Abraham to become the father figure to the chosen people, the Israelites, is the first mandate of the Bible which then identifies God’s plan to give glory upon His name by bringing salvation to those entire He has created. Kaiser states that this particular theme of God’s program to bring salvation to dominate the real mission of the Old Testament to identify the theology Christians must follow. He also argues that the role of Israel is to share the Man of God or the Messiah with everyone and not just have this person help Israelis. He believes that the Man of Promise is a message aimed to all the nations. In the rest of the book Kaiser written, he explores Israel’s role to serve as the beacon to the rest of the nations as noted in the book of Psalms, Isaiah and Jonah. He also points out that the Old Testament is always referred by Paul upon his mission to the Gentiles to pass the teachings of God outside Israel.
This common theme of “creating a one race” in God’s endless mission to found the Kingdom of God is continued as McKee (2008) narrates the story of Moses in the Book of Exodus. Exodus 19:3-6 gives readers how God and His people had an understanding, through the form of a covenant, signifying that His people would serve as His representative to the world and show them His teachings as God would protect and nurture them through His love and wisdom. The rest of the five first books in the Bible reaffirms God’s covenant to His people and His ownership to all His people like a king to his followers, no matter what race they are from.
Roberts (2007) supports Jennings and McKee in citing that God’s mission is to have a fellowship and relationship with His people. However His people disobeyed Him as they desired to be equal to Him by being God themselves. Roberts notes that this is a rebellion the people of God have created and they take it up a notch through the creation of sin. This broke God’s gift to man and the perfection God has been working so hard for, the Mission He wants His people to help him with. He notes that upon the first sin the first men have done to God, men have tried to earn God’s trust again but for Roberts, he believes that God is the only person who could return this broken relationship back to its original form. God is also forgiving upon his analysis on the story in the Bible, especially after the great flood in Genesis 6 where He vowed to never curse man and all of His creations.
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God to comfort all who mourn.”
Grisanti (1998) also noted how Isaiah gives emphasis to the mission given to Israel by God in His behalf. He stresses that Isaiah chapters 40-50 notes Israel’s role can be two-fold, whether its mission should be done towards the nation or out. He also stresses that Israelis are God’s followers through their application of His teachings and decrees . Other critics for this particular chapter in Isaiah such as Luther (1975) and Calvin (1850) stress that Isaiah is a Missionary Prophet and he has seen the extent salvation would be for all the nations. Both Luther and Calvin believed that Israel is the missionary nation that would seek out to other nations and become the prophet that would guide other nations to God’s word. ;
The rest of the books of the Old Testament also narrate God’s mission of uniting all of His people in one Kingdom but this is now explained to the people in the teachings and preaching of the Prophets God has chosen to proclaim His word. Goerner (1979) notes that amongst all the prophets in the Old Testament that reveals to readers God’s mission, it is the book of Isaiah which has given a lot of revelations and preaching regarding this mission to those who wish to know God’s mission. Chapters 52 and 54 stress God’s love or the Suffering One as Isaiah puts it on these chapters.
Douglas (2002) noted other prophets such as Jeremiah and Ezekiel, two other prophets noted in the Old Testament that defines God’s ultimate mission. In Jeremiah’s book, his selection as a prophet was cited in Jeremiah 1:5 “Before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” Jeremiah then cited in Jeremiah 31:33-34 the new covenant that would be done with the people to re-establish God’s position with His people, the king to all those who lives in His kingdom. Jeremiah also cited in Jeremiah 16:19-21 that God’s purpose since the creation is His “nations” signifying that God’s role is that of a ruler. Ezekiel on the other hand is God’s glory in these nations He wishes to unite. He also stressed that Israel would be freed from its captors as these captors speak blasphemous commentaries about God, the God who has created every one and continues to watch over each one.
Hedlund (1985) concentrated on the book of Psalms in describing God’s mission as it is written in the Old Testament. Hedlund cited that the book is quite familiar in discussing and interpreting the “all nations” theme of God’s mission to the world. Today, the message of the book is overlooked but looking closely, the theme is quite prominent especially in certain chapters of the book. He also notes that the book of Psalms is a call and note to the people to gather and worship together, giving praises to the one God that has created all of them. Hedlund also cites that the church finds this book as a symbol to worship. But this is not so as if one translate Psalms 47:1, the line “O clap your hands all ye people” is translated into “Clap your hands all you nations”. The verse itself is not only concentrated to the people of Israel but also to the nations around the globe and asks them to join the Israelis in worshipping God.
The book itself is quite extensive but to trace the beginning of God’s mission theme, Wright (2006) states that it is in Psalms 2:8 which this theme begins. Wright cites that starting from this particular verse, one can see how God continues to rule His people, tries to bring them close to one another and how He copes in each rebellion that has happened. The book also notes that God’s plan and mission would ultimately happen upon the induction of His King, in this case, His Son Jesus Christ to the throne. Wright also rises that God’s mission is understood by the believers upon the book’s creation. He also explains that the book is not only a song of praise but also a song of lament.
Miller (1985) also showed in his analysis of the book of Psalms that Israel’s worship does not only combine the two important parts of the religion: theology and testimony, but it also is a way on how they can fulfill their role in helping God in His grand design to make the whole world as one family. He stresses that the Psalms seeks others and draw them towards the circle of those who believe the teachings and understand who their God is about, eventually converting them. Miller believes that not all those who read the Old Testament realize that the common theme on this particular part of the Bible is concentrated in praising God. Of course this power of praising God not only was visible in the old times but also in the present time. One must be able to understand that without a medium to declare God’s word like how it is done with the book of Psalms, Israel’s role as God’s helpers in uniting the world maybe in vain.
In the New Testament, God’s mission is also cited by experts in certain parts of the book. But this time, God allots His time in making the church prepared to help Him fulfill His Mission on creating the Kingdom of God He has designed since the creation. The church is also given enough emphasis in most of Jesus Christ’s teachings and the books also explain the position of the church that God has wished for it to uphold. According to Crawford (2008) and Moreau, et al (2004); Israel has slowly forgotten its position and role to aid God in uniting all the nations of God. He now appoints the church, composed of Jews and Gentiles as stated in Ephesians, to serve as the witness. In the four books of the apostles namely Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; they cited that Jesus Christ ordered His own disciples to travel around the globe and preach so that the teachings God has asked His Son to teach the nations would be passed around as well. This process is still continued to be passed around today through the help of the church. The church creation around the Pentecost as noted in Acts 2:1 noted that God still continues to help the church in his other mission in preparing the world he has created for the incoming kingdom He created to allow each race and nation to be one family with him. Jesus Christ then served as the beacon for His disciples to await the Holy Spirit’s blessing upon them. God realigned the roles of His people to help the church assist Him with his goal and mission in building the Kingdom of all. ;
Olson (2003) establishes that it is through the New Testament that the mission of God is now embodied by the missionaries and representatives of God, selected through by the main disciples of Jesus Christ. For the church to properly fulfill its role as God’s representatives in teaching the will He wishes to show to His people in time for salvation and the coming of the Kingdom of God, it is through the disciples in which members of the clergy can learn and sustain the grace of God’s teachings. Most of the church’s position in aiding God’s mission is written in the book of Ephesians and the book of the Corinthians. Olson also cites that Love would enable the ministry to function properly and to motivate them to search for God’s Kingdom and His teachings would be applied to the hearts of His people.
In Willis (1979) and Peters (1972), they expounded on the effects of Paul’s first travels after the time of Christ and how he came across the will of God and His mission in building the Kingdom of God. Most leaders in Jerusalem question the Gentiles and why they are accepted in the Church. But James, another disciple of Christ, remembered Jesus’s teachings from the books of Law, Prophets and Psalms from the Old Testament and prevented a massive argument from brewing between the Jews and Gentiles. Both authors speculate on how James got to remember this particular teaching of Christ but they both agree that James noted that the Word of God in form of the Gospel is not meant just for Jews but also for the Gentiles and other races that flock God’s church. ;
Now that the mission of God and the coming of His Kingdom is properly outlined in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, what are its implications upon the different churches that studied and valued its teachings?
For the contemporary Australian Church, God’s mission is well embedded in the teachings and lives of its ministry and its people. According to Dixon (2005), he notes that the Australian Catholic Community which is bounded together by the contemporary Australian Church believes that God’s mission in becoming one race upon the coming of the Kingdom of God has a great impact on how society now interacts with the church. Many Catholic groups and movements concentrate on not just teaching God’s word and teachings to the other nations but also protect some of the important rights God has given each person. Most of these groups are thankful for the creation for the creation of the Vatican II document which has updated the old notions of Christianity and now leaned towards creating a united Christian community and accepting other religions by giving them freedom to choose what they believe in. Dixon also stressed that compared to Catholicism in the 1950s, the Australian Church has rapidly weakened due to the controversies and old traditions it upholds and practices. But now that the Church is finally embracing the advantages of modern development in applying the teachings of God’s decrees, more people are now drawn to the Kingdom of God. Despite this change, Dixon states, the teachings have not changed, only the transmission of the teaching has changed.
For the Catholic Education Office in Melbourne (2006), the Australian Catholic Church has changed since it was first founded almost 200 years ago. The diversity of history and people who have flocked the country has developed Australia’s concept of faith, tradition and practice, giving the country a very holistic Catholic community, similar to God’s envision of the Kingdom of God. Being a country of migrants also contributed to Australia’s concept of Catholicism and of course the teachings of God.. In Australia, this is done as they express their faith to God in many different dialects and languages and form a diverse community of believers and followers believing God’s word. The group also cites that Australia embodies the New Testament concept of God’s mission as it is viewed as a mission country, a common notion on how God’s mission is now embodied through the Church and the missionaries that have spread across the world to give the message of God. Missionaries have been sent from all across the globe upon tracing the roots of Australia’s first Catholics by preaching the good word of God.
It is a given fact that God is the Divine Being that has given each and every one of His people a life they can live in any way they wish and a mission they need to fulfill in His behalf. Despite the fact that people continue to rebel on His teachings and will, God continues to forgive His people as He believes His people can re-assess His initial assessment on their actions and do something One may vary in their interpretation on what God wishes each one of us to understand upon His intentions and wishes for His people and despite the various teachings one hears about God’s prophecies, one can notice that His intentions are do-able if only we listen to it. His mission is also our mission but of course, we play a big role in helping God with His own mission. But this is sure, God wishes us to understand that despite His physical absence amongst all of us, He is still there to listen if we pray to Him and seek His fatherly guidance.
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