As missiologist Paul Hiebert says, for a long time, life was fragmented into different spheres, e.g. public and private; economic, social and political, and religious; rich and poor. In the same vein, missions was separated from evangelism, and proclamation separated from acts of justice and mercy. Today we are trying to pull these threads together again, since they should not have been separated in the first place.
History has shown that it is hard to hold proclamation and justice together. There have been groups who have focused so exclusively on telling people about Jesus that they have cared little for the body while other groups have actively cared for the needs of people without pointing them to Jesus who gives eternal life.
While this either–or approach may seem easy, it actually undermines the integrated message of the gospel. God called Abraham so that he could be a blessing to the nations. That “blessing” is not just spiritual but must surely be all the fullness that God wants to give his people. As Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it to the full” (Jn 10:10). That fullness cannot just be life eternal in the kingdom to come, but also in the kingdom here and now.
Hence we should be concerned about eating and playing, about Jesus as personal Lord and Saviour, and about the structures which reinforce injustice and prevent people knowing Jesus. We are concerned about unjust governments as well as the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. We want to build up the common good, so that everyone can flourish.
As individuals, we are not called to do every one of these things. But we are certainly called to be aware that all these are part of God’s mission for God’s people. We need to encourage our faith communities to see this big picture, and over time and space, address all these aspects of life.
It does mean that we are required to hold these tensions in life, work and ministry. This is a tough call, and one which requires us to be in teams. There can be no soloists in the Kingdom of God. Rather, we all work together as members of the Body of Christ. We need to be aware of the different roles, strengths and gifts of different people in the faith community and support and honour each other, so that the whole body is built up and Christ glorified. That is why we are all called to do Integral Mission today.
See page 2 for more information on Micah Conversation 2019.
Dr Kwa Kiem-Kiok is Lecturer in Intercultural Studies with Biblical Graduate School of Theology and Local Preacher of Trinity Methodist Church. She is part of the organising team of Micah Conversation 2019, which seeks to help Christians do integral mission by both sharing the good news and doing good in society. It is organised by Micah Singapore and supported by various organisations, including the TRAC Board of Outreach and Social Concerns.
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