Repairing the World

Our Second Annual Streetfest Against Violence displayed unity across the community to join in God’s work of repairing the world (WANDFOX, and WCIA).  This sermon excerpt from one of New Covenant’s first pastors, Martin Shupack, on 2.10.2019 at New Hope Fellowship Church, Alexandria, Va., articulates why “social action” — rightly understood — is both integral to the Gospel and constitutes the mission of the church. May it bless and inspire you as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. -Renée These lectionary passages (Isa. 6:1-8, 1 Cor. 15:1-11; Luke 5:1-11) describe encounters with God . . .

Yet there is one more thing that comes from such as encounter. God says to Isaiah, “Whom shall I send,” and Isaiah answers, “Here I am, send me.” The purpose of God’s appearing to Isaiah was to send him on a mission as a prophet. Paul writes that his own encounter with Jesus resulted in his call as an apostle. And in Luke, Jesus tells Peter, James and John that they will be “fishers of men.” In each case the main purpose of the encounter with God was activation for mission. Yes, meeting God involved the forgiveness of sins and the powerful experience of God’s love and acceptance. But both these things lead to mission. 

Understanding this corrects a common mistake about the purpose of the Gospel message. Many Christians think that the major reason for telling others about Jesus is so their souls will be saved for heaven. But that badly misunderstands the actual goal of Christian faith, which is participation in God’s mission. God calls us to the mission of repairing creation — the healing of the world to be what God intends it to be. We carry out this mission “not by might, not by power,” but in the servant spirit of Jesus. God’s grand plan of redemption and salvation is that “God’s kingdom come and God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” as Jesus taught us to pray.

This is the reason Jesus died and was raised from the dead, and it’s the purpose of the Gospel. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Good News of the Kingdom of God. In Jesus, God’s kingdom has entered into history now – the work of repair has begun! That repair will be fully accomplished by Jesus when he appears in glory, but it is carried on now by us in union with him. The goal of the Gospel message is to recruit co-workers with God in the mission that Jesus inaugurated of repairing the world. This is what Jesus says in Great Commission in Matthew 28. Our call isn’t simply to get people to believe in Jesus. It’s to “make disciples” — to develop followers of Jesus who are growing in the likeness of Jesus’ self-giving “agape” love and participating in his mission to set the world right.

Jesus’ activities when he walked the earth show us what the work of healing and repairing the world looks like. (Read fuller text here for examples of repairing the world through forgiveness, peacemaking, and caring for the suffering.)

Some Christians think these kind of activities are not integral to Christian faith, but that gravely misunderstands the Gospel. Activities such as these are not merely “social” ministry as opposed to the more important “spiritual” ministry. They are themselves the mission of the church – inaugurated by Jesus — to heal and repair creation: caring for the suffering, feeding the sick, giving drink to the thirsty, visiting the prisoners, welcoming the immigrant, protecting the environment, freeing the captives, bringing justice, making peace. These are the actions that repair the world as we “look forward to the Day of God and speed its coming.” Scripture makes it clear that God calls us to this work of repair for the world as a whole, at every level of life and society – from our interpersonal relationships to our engagement with the nations. 

We have many opportunities every day – as individuals, churches and participants in the life of nations — to carry out the mission Jesus calls us to:  opportunities to express self-giving love, to forgive, to care for the sick, to comfort the suffering, to feed the hungry, to welcome the stranger, to steward the environment, to resist racism and bigotry, to right wrongs, to make peace, to share our faith. In all these ways we repair the world. We serve as instruments of God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven, and we help make the world a place that manifests something of God’s kingdom.

Repairing creation is the mission of the church, it is the plan of God, it is the purpose of the Gospel, it is the work of Christ. What all this means is that the primary work of mission is not carried out by “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.” These are but servants for your sake. The main work of mission is done by you— by all of us — everyday as we serve God in our own sphere of life by healing and repairing the world.

Martin Shupack, 02.10.19 
Good Friday Reflection on Violence
Bulletin: 4/21
Order of Service: 4/21
Sermon: Easter 2019 -Acts 10:34-36

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