Thursday, December 01, 2005

redemptively engaging peoples and cultures

Vision Statement - Part III (this is especially rough)

Because we have been ‘bought with a price’, we live in the world differently; we engage it redemptively. This does not mean that we do the redeeming; that is God’s job. Rather, we are agents or ambassadors of the redemption secured by Christ. Through his blood, Christ has reconciled all things to himself, peoples and cultures (Col 1.20). It is this blood-bought reconciliation that we have been commissioned to announce and act upon. Therefore, when we encounter people and cultures that do not show evidence of redemption, we engage them redemptively. This means that we consider people and culture from the perspective of the Redeemer. We consider ethics and activities from the viewpoint of Scripture, resulting in any number of responses: celebration, consideration, critique and condemnation. However, our evaluations of the ethics and estate of peoples and cultures (ours and others) should not be reduced to theoretical estimation. As agents of reconciliation, we carry the imperative of proclaiming redemption in Christ. Through Him, we can offer hope and healing to those aspects of life and society that are in desperate need of transformation. Not one people group or culture is to be overlooked in our pursuit of the redemption of the world, because Christ has purchased our praise and our products, our songs and our stuff, our worship and our work for his everlasting glory and honor (Isa 60; Rev 5.9; 21.22-27).

This redemptive witness, the gospel of Christ, is about justice, God's justice. God's justice entails both a vertical and horizontal dimension. The unchurched, unbelieving peoples of the world need to be vertically reconciled to God through Christ, in whom God's just demands have been satisfied. This witness testifies to God's infinite and divine justice in Christ's perfect life and death. At the same time, it also testifies to his great mercy in Christ's incarnation, atonement, resurrection, and intercession.

This vertical dimension of God's justice cannot stand alone. The only way that our witness can be Christ-exalting is if justice is established both vertically and horizontally. A Christ-exalting witness exalts Christ as the Lamb and as the Lion, as the Way and the Warrior. Gospel justice that exalts the person and work of Christ must be displayed both at the cross and in the culture. What we mean is the gospel isn't just words, but works (works of justice motivated by love). The peoples of the earth need to not only hear the gospel, but to see it in conjunction with our works. They need to see and receive horizontal redemptive witness. We want to be wholly biblical in fulfilling the Great Commission. Therefore we want to not only tell people about Jesus, but do the kinds of things that Jesus did, like eating with sinners, feeding the hungry, loving the downcast, healing the sick and lame (Mt. 25:34-36). As a result, we approach life with a desire to proclaim and to live the Gospel, that is, to do and to be a redemptive witness.