Every human being no matter far from God is invaluable to God. There is no mission without love for people – not as targets as often is the case, but as precious people made in the image of God. Jesus did not see the last, the lost, and the least, as charity cases, but as authentic people that he related to with compassion. The mission is deepest and widest, when God’s redeemed love people as genuine human beings.
Unlike in the past where it has often been that one must first believe the right doctrines, then subsequently become the right person, and then finally were finally permitted to join the inner circle of community, Jesus demonstrated the reverse. Jesus’ mission was motivated by love as demonstrated by his radical inclusiveness. His mission invites people to belonging in community and engages them to becoming the people they were each intended to be. As God’s undeniable love presses against the hearts of people, the hope is that they might find themselves passionately believing and embracing the love of God. Love lies at the heart of the mission.
In response to Lu, thanks so much for your comments and your honesty on that last value.
I agree with your thoughts. That is why i’m convinced this core value must tie back to the first value. We have a God that is passionate for believers and non-believers alike. While we can often get caught up in joining God on mission to this world, we must never forget that we ourselves remain God’s mission field. God longs to do something in us as much as He longs to do something through us.
It’s interesting that Rob Bell was quoted on the response as well. I was going to title this second value with a term he once used, Be-incarnation. Christian’s believe in be-incarnation, that our mission involves bringing the invisible presence of God into a visible reality through our lives. When I talk about mission, I extend this to applying to every single person God has created. Even non-believers have the capacity to reflect the beauty of God, whether they acknowledge Him or not. I guess I’m fundamentally talking about purpose in life, something more than simply receiving and enjoying God forever, as the old catechism states.
At the same time, I don’t believe that we are indispensable to God’s mission. Sometimes it is easy for Christian’s to forget that God is the ultimate missionary. I can sense laced within the language of some missionaries that God is not present, unless they are present. That is why the first value also states that it is the Holy Spirit that goes ahead of us. God is working in people’s lives long before we arrive. The recurring theme throughout Scripture though is not only God’s workings throughout humanity, but that of people’s relationship with God becoming so intense and responsive that they take on the heart of God and do the things that God would do. And so we join Him on His mission.