Perspectives on Missions Corner: by Kathy Carr
The following is a summary of the perspective of John R. W. Stott, Rector Emeritus of All Souls Church in London, President of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity, and an Extra Chaplain to the Queen.
Has God revealed in Scripture that "mission" is his will for his people? Only then shall we be satisfied for then it becomes a matter of obeying God, whatever others may think or say. Our story begins about 4,000 years ago with God's call to Abraham.
"Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go from your country and kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves." Gen. 12:1-3 God made a promise to Abraham. And an understanding of that promise is indispensable to an understanding of the Bible and of the Christian mission. God chose one man and his family in order, through them, to bless all the families of the earth. What was the promise God made to Abraham? It had several parts.
First, it was the promise of a posterity. He was to go from his kindred and his father's house, and in exchange for the loss of his family God would make of him "a great nation." Second, it was the promise of a land...he was to leave his own land and, in return, God would show him another country. Third, it was the promise of a blessing that would spill over upon all mankind.
"Who are the true descendants of Abraham, the true beneficiaries of God's promises to him? They are believers in Christ of whatever race. In Romans 4 , Paul points out that Abraham not only received justification by faith but also received this blessing before he had been circumcised. If we "share the faith of Abraham," then "he is the father of us all, as it is written, 'I have made you the father of many nations'". Abraham's real descendants are believers in Jesus Christ, whether racially they happen to be Jews or Gentiles. Now we are Abraham's seed by faith, and earth's families will be blessed only if we go to them with the gospel. That is God's plain purpose, and may the words "all the families of the earth" be written on our hearts. For it is this expression more than any other which reveals the living God of the Bible to be a missionary.