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Welcome to the online home of Timothy Willard, writer, author, speaker, and storyteller.

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Should the Church be "On Mission"?

Should the Church be "On Mission"?

Paul’s view of the church is not instrumental at all. Instead, he says that since we have been gathered into the church, we who have first set out hope in Christ should live like this: praising God’s glory.

The point is this: church is its own end. It is created by God’s good pleasure and for our good pleasure. As a result of being called into the family called church, our job is to bask in its sheer goodness, by living together in holy love, and by together praising God’s glory for doing such a hilarious thing.

According to this summary passage, it does not appear that the church was created for the world, as many assume. If anything, the world was created for the sake of the church. That is, the funnel of history is not that the church pours itself into the world to redeem it, but the world--at least those in the world who trust in Christ--is poured into the church.

Paul is not foisting a new idea on the Ephesians. His theology is grounded in the Old Testament. There we repeatedly read how Israel has been chosen by God and esteemed by God, created by God so he might have a people for himself.

One typical example is when the Lord speaks through Isaiah:

But you, Israel, my servant,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
the offspring of Abraham, my friend;
you whom I took from the ends of the earth,
and called from its farthest corners,
saying to you, “You are my servant,
I have chosen you and not cast you off” (Is. 41:8-9).

Abraham was not only called from the ends of the earth to be father of God’s chosen people, but the people he fathers (by God’s grace) to become a sign of history’s goal:

In days to come
the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised above the hills;
all the nations shall stream to it.
Many peoples shall come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.” (Is. 2:2-3)

In other words, the world comes to Jerusalem. Israel does not go out to the world missionally to transform the world, but at the end of history, the world comes to Mt. Zion to worship and learn from God.

Photo by Robin Spielmann on Unsplash

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