Participating in the Life and Mission of God
The Apostle Paul desired that the newly establish churches, many of which he and his missionary band had founded, not only believe the gospel, but become the gospel and live out the gospel in the context of their daily lives, and so participate in the life and mission of God. John Colwell asserts that, “The gospel story . . . defines the life of the Christian and the life of the Church, while the life of the Church and the life of the Christian is, correspondingly, a retelling and reinterpreting of that gospel story. The world has no access to the gospel story other than as it is narrated in the life, worship, and proclamation of the Church. . . . Through its service and being as witness, the Church is a rendering of the gospel to the world.”
Likewise, Lesslie Newbigin affirms that the church as a local congregation is the hermeneutic of the gospel. Thus, the church shaped by the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit in its midst is formed into a worshipping community that: forgives one another; demonstrates hospitality not only to fellow Christians but also to the stranger and the outsider; and loves and cares for all both the people of God and those who do-not-yet-the people of God.
Hence, Congdon is correct in that being and act, life and mission, belong together both for God and for the church. Paul was committed: to the mission of God to spread the gospel of redemption and transformation; and to the establishment new faith communities that in turn would worship, obey and bear witness to the living God by being conformed to Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit.
Thus, the church and the mission of God are intimately linked together. The church participates in God’s mission as Christopher J. H. Wright states, “It is not so much . . . that God has a mission for the church in the world, as that God has a church for his mission in the world. Mission was not made for the church, the church was made for mission – God’s mission.” Accordingly, Paul was not only committed to God’s mission. He was also committed to the fact that the churches he helped establish be themselves dedicated to the mission of God in the world in which they lived through their worship, obedience, witness, and likeness toJesus Christ in the power of the Spirit.