God And The Great Story Of Redemption

Decent Essays
Early in my graduate theological education I encountered the work of British missionary and theologian Lesslie Newbigin, who transformed my understanding of the church’s mission and thus my sense of call. With Newbigin’s guidance I began to understand mission not as a command to be obeyed or a duty to be fulfilled, but as an exciting and life-giving adventure that flows from the very heart of the triune God. Such an approach grounds our missional efforts in the nature of God and the great story of redemption, rather than in the misguided impulses and trends of human nature and culture. In the end, mission is directed to the praise and glory of God.
Newbigin contends that Christian mission is to be understood as “proclaiming the kingdom of
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My work can therefore be focused on joining in God’s ongoing mission and embodying the presence of Jesus by the power of the Spirit for the sake of the people I am called to serve.
One of the greatest challenges in mission is how to communicate the good news in ways that people can understand without compromising the truth of the gospel or its unique ability to challenge all human forms of thought and action. Newbigin acknowledges the need to communicate in ways that are understood by the hearer, yet maintains that “what comes home to the heart of the hearer must really be the gospel, and not a product shaped by the mind of the hearer.” Those who seek to bear witness to the gospel thus must not cave to the temptation to “begin by attending to the aspirations of the people” or “answering the questions they are asking in their terms.” Instead, we must begin by telling the story of God’s redemptive work in the world and we must continue to live and speak from within this narrative. Only as we indwell this particular story are we able to perceive and address the real needs of people in any particular context.
Newbigin’s insistence on the priority of the story of redemption spoken and lived out in a community of faith is one of his most challenging and yet most vital contributions to missional theology and practice. Daily I face the temptation to begin my work by discovering and connecting with the hopes and the
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