Chris Wright’s The Mission of God brings together his life of thinking, and chp 11 of this book ties together his thinking about election, redemption and covenant and how each gives rise to “mission.” In this chp he focuses on ethics and how each of the above themes has an ethical dimension. We’ve got a big question for today.
How significant is how Christians live for mission? In your view, what biblical texts or what theological ideas are most significant to understand/live in order to answer this question? How significant is credibility? How significant, in other words, is authenticity?
He begins with election which he earlier has clarified as “election to mission” rather than just “election to salvation.” (This for him is not an either/or.) And here he focuses on Genesis 18:18-19:
Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. 19 For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.?
Election leads to ethics, and ethics forms the foundation for mission. The ethical quality of the people of God is the vital link between their calling and their mission — this is a theme that I have heard constantly in the emerging movement. It is not the first to say so; it will not be the last to say so; but it knows the significance of ethics for the viability of mission.
Second, he dips into Exodus 19 for the connection of mission ethics and redemption. And here Wright turns to Exodus 19:4-6 (I add v. 3):
3 Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, ?This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: 4 ?You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.? These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.?
Here God’s redemption from Egypt — the Exodus — forms Israel into a people of God who are given the Torah so they can become — as a Torah-covenanted and redeemed people — a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Israel is not chosen to be better, to be separate, but to be holy unto mission. Wright points us to Leviticus 19 to see what holiness is all about.
Third, he connects the missional ethic with covenant. He turns to Deuteronomy 4, a chp for which he offers an exceptional survey (and clever structure) and reveals how often the nations appear, and then he narrows it all down to Deut 4:6-8:
6 Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, ?Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.? 7 What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him? 8 And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?
Once again: election leads to a holy people whose very life is missional. Law obedience is not for self-congratulation; it is not for separation and comparison to the sins of others; it is a God-drenched dripping of grace that creates a people that draws attention to the presence of God and redemption.