Chris Wright is the international director of the Langham Partnership. He wrote “The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative (Intervarsity, 2006). This CT article highlights the changes in Global Christianity, where the “old peripheries are now the center.” He speaks of our “blindness to the ways Western Christianity is infected by cultural idolatry.” And that now, with the center of gravity no longer in the West, we have the opportunity to return to ‘normal’ Christianity, not dominated by one geographic locus or territorial center. In this ‘normal’ mission we will be re-learning the multi-directional nature of mission in the Book of Acts; he points out that our preoccupation with concentric circles has obscured the more complex pattern of mission and movement in Acts. “What held together these crisscrossing lines of missionary movement all over the international Mediterranean world? Carefully tended relationships of trust. He encourages us to recapture the relational, partnering, reciprocal style of missional interchange exhibited in the book of 3 John, where travelling church planters and teachers were to be welcomed in a manner worthy of God.
“Perhaps what we most need to learn, since we so easily forget it, is that mission is and always has been God’s before it becomes ours… This God-centered refocusing of mission turns inside-out our obsession with mission plans, agendas, goals, strategies and grand schemes… We ask, ‘Where does God fit into the story of my life?’ when the real question is ‘Where does my little life fit into the great story of God’s mission?”
He ends with a call to us to go back to the Cross and relearn its comprehensive glory. “It is vital that we see the Cross as central to every aspect of holistic, biblical mission—that is, of all we do in the name of the crucified and risen Jesus. It is a mistake, in my view, to think that while our evangelism must be centered on the Cross (as of course it has to be), our social engagement has some other theological foundation or justification.”
What is God doing in your part of the world as we move towards a model of missions which is not just ‘from the West to the rest?’ In SIM we embrace multi-cultural leadership, although we still have a way to travel on the journey towards the vision Chris Wright is helping us to see here. The cross of Christ speaks of servanthood and sacrifice. That’s the stuff that healing is made of.