Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Object of Mission (Part 2)

In the first post of this discussion, we saw that God doesn't just seek a multitude of individuals, He seeks a variety of individuals from every people group to worship Him (Rev. 5:9, 7:9). The lesson in the previous post was essentially this: Since Babel, God describes the objects of His Mission largely in terms of distinct groups of people who have been separated by Him linguistically, ethnically, and geographically. Therefore, this object should be a major focus of our Mission strategy today.

Before we continue with this people group approach to the Mission, I wanted to offer a little balance to the approach (which I will try to do often).

While I do not want to discourage you from reading his book (all of you should), I do want to draw your attention to a statement made by Charles Keen (whom I have the greatest respect for) in "Thinking Outside the Box." His statement is representative of the beliefs (stated or implied) by many in the movement to reach unreached people groups.
"God's design is diversity. For years many of us have practiced a commitment and desire that the multitudes, or numbers, was the motive. Numbers are not the issue with God. He wants to be worshipped by a diversity of peoples. This may mean less rather than more. He desires some from all tribes, language, and peoples." (pg. 25, emphasis mine)
Biblically, we can say without reservation that God seeks (and will obtain) worship from the diversity of the world's peoples. However, to say that "numbers are not the issue with God" and that "this may mean less rather than more," has no Biblical basis. This is ignoring another significant object of God's Mission, namely, every person.
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9 (emphasis mine in all verses)

"Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." 1 Tim 2:4

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16 (the context reveals that He is speaking of all the individual whosoever's in the world)
So, the objects of God's Mission are not only every group of people in their diversity, but also every person in his individuality. In other words, God seeks every person among every people.

Brother Keen is correct when he points out that we have long ignored many people groups because of our focus on individuals. However, he is wrong to imply that there is some theological tension between the objects of every individual and every people group. These purposes of God are not mutually exclusive, but inclusive. God purposes that every people group worship Him, and also that a maximum number of individuals worship him. Numbers are the issue with God, as well as diversity (which Brother Keen implies on pg. 15).

The question isn't a theological one (does God want to reach people or peoples?). That is settled in Scripture. The question is a strategic obedience one (will we align our strategy and resource deployment with God's dual goal?). That needs to be settled by us.

So, here is where we are now. The objects of God's Mission are every person and every people. We have long focused merely on individuals, ignoring the diverse peoples who do not yet have the Gospel. We must align our Mission strategy with the Missionary Goal of God: the glory of God expressed in the worship of a maximum amount of people from every group of people.

Discussion toward such a strategy will be posted next week. Till then, browse the unreached peoples on Joshua Project and think of what you could do to reach them.

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