Vol 2:11 Worship and Mission: Worship as the Foundation for Mission

I am in the midst of reading Christopher J.H. Wright’s The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative. Wright mentions that the first significant time the kingdom or reign of God is mentioned in the Bible is in the climax of the Song of Moses when the Israelites celebrated their deliverance from their enslavement by Pharaoh and seeing God’s victory over the armies of Pharaoh in the waters of the Red Sea – “The Lord reigns forever and ever.” (Exodus 15:8)

It is in the context of worshiping YHWH that God’s reign is declared.

This reminds me also of a statement that Ray S. Anderson expressed regarding what shapes our ministry or mission in the world – it is worship.

It is clear in John’s Gospel that what drives God’s redemptive mission in the world is God’s love for all humanity, all creation – God’s love for the world. We hear in John 3 that “For God so loved the world that he gave (sent) his one and only Son, that whoever believes in (or believes) him shall not perish but have eternal life”

It is God’s love for the world that motivates God in God’s mission.

How do we participate with God in God’s mission – it is first and foremost, not through engaging the needs of the world, rather it is first and foremost through engaging God in worshiping God.

Anderson expresses: “Christ’s primary ministry is to the Father for the sake of the world, not to the world for the sake of the Father. This means that the world does not set the agenda for ministry, but the Father, who loves the world and seeks its good, sets the agenda. This Christological, and actually Trinitarian, basis for ministry rules out both utilitarianism, which tends to create ministry out of needs, and pragmatism, which transforms ministry into marketing strategy” (Anderson, Theological Foundations for Ministry, 9).

The language Anderson uses for Christ’s ministry being to the Father for the sake of the world is language of worship. We are called first and foremost to love God, to worship God and it is through loving God that we become aware what touches the heart of God, to notice what God notices, to see the world through God’s eyes, to hear the cries that God hears. Too often we have tried to do ministry and mission by noticing what we noticed and merely asked God to bless our efforts. Instead, as we give ourselves to God in worshiping and loving God, we are enabled to love our neighbors as ourselves because it is the Spirit of God that gives us the heart of God to love our neighbors.

This is what Wright affirms in talking about the nature of YHWH’s kingship – God “exercises his kingship on behalf of the weak and oppressed” (Wright, 79). We only notice what God notices when we are in a worship relationship with God. In worship we recognize that God is the initiator of God’s mission and that God is the fulfiller of God’s redemption of humanity and of all creation

Therefore, the worship and loving of God is essential if we are to participate with God in God’s mission. We cannot be missional without first worshiping and loving God. Through worship we become instrumental for God’s purposes for making all things – otherwise, God merely is a “tool,” a “resource” for the advancement and empowering of our agendas for ministry in response to the needs of the world we see all around us.

May we grow in our mission as we grow in our worshiping and loving of God.

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