This week is the most important of the Christian calendar. We celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus and we remember our salvation. As Christians with a passion for missions, this week serves as one of our primary sources of motivation. This post presents a brief glimpse into God’s mission and shows how Easter sends us to the world.
**What follows is adapted from the upcoming book, On Mission Together which is scheduled to be released by B&H Academic in December.
God’s mission is first seen in the opening pages of the Bible. Here we read the marvelous telling of God’s creation of this world and everything in it. The pinnacle moment of this story is the creation of humanity: man and woman. After creating and bringing them together, God declared this world to be very good.(Genesis 1:31) However, despite God’s bold declaration, we know that we no longer live in a world that can be called very good. Sure, somedays are better than others. Some seasons of life are good. But, even a brief look at our lives, the lives of those near us, or our Twitter/Facebook feeds show the brokenness; it is no longer very good.
What happened? Keep reading. . .
The story of creation is followed closely by the story of, what theologians call, the Fall. This single event seems to have knocked the very good right out of our world.
In Genesis 2, Moses describes a perfect garden. The garden is filled with lush plants, plenty of water, land filled with gold and precious gems. Everything is in perfect harmony; God walks and talks with his creation. Genesis 2:17, says that God pointed out one tree, and told the man not to eat from that tree. However, as we all know, he did eat from this forbidden tree, and as a result, the world fell into chaos. The apostle Paul, apparently reflecting on this event, would later write, “sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12) This one, seemingly simple act of rebellion, created a world that was no longer very good.
The Bible is not silent about the grave consequences of the Fall. Immediately following this initial act of rebellion, both man and women were overcome with shame, guilt, and fear. They hid their bodies from one another and also tried to hide from God. Their disobedience placed them under God’s judgment. Let’s look again at Romans 5 to see how Paul describes it:
5:17 . . . by one man’s trespass, death reigned 5:18 . . . through one trespass there is condemnation for everyone. 5:19 . . . through one man’s disobedience, many were made sinners
The Fall introduced physical, relational, and spiritual pain into the world. Humanity chose to walk away from God, but thankfully God chooses to pursue us.
Where is Easter?
Perhaps the most striking verse in the opening pages of the Bible is Genesis 3:15. God is speaking to the serpent, the source of temptation and the essence of evil. “I will put hostility between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Gen 3:15) In this verse, we read God’s promise to rescue us. Here we have the unveiling of God’s mission to destroy evil through the work of a Son. This Son will be wounded (strike his heel), but this wound will result in the crushing of the head of the serpent. Paul, again in Romans 5,
5:17 . . . now much more will those who receive the overflow of grace and the gift of righteousness rein in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. 5:18 . . . through one righteous act there is life-giving justification for everyone 5:19 . . . through one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.
In these verses, the mystery of Easter is revealed. God’s mission is Jesus’ ministry to rescue creation from the consequence of the Fall.
This week, amidst the celebratory trappings of the season, take the time to embrace God’s mission. Remembering the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus reminds us that no price is too high. God’s mission embraces the world because it is an act of love for the world.
Scott Hildreth is the director of the Lewis A. Drummond Center for Great Commission Studies. He frequently speaks on issues of missions, spiritual formation, missiology, and theology. Scott also contributes to SEBTS faculty blog www.betweenthetimes.com