The following is Part 6 of a 6 part series:
- Part I: Preaching in Babel: Telling a Fickle World of the Unchanging God (Dec 11, 2017)
- Part II: The Need for Contextualization (Dec 18, 2017)
- Part III: Contextualization and the Ethics of Communication (Jan 15, 2018)
- Part IV: Contextualization and the Ethics of Identity (Jan 22, 2018)
- Part V: Ethics and the Power Dynamics of Contextualization (Jan 29, 2018)
- Part VI: Conclusion (Feb 5, 2018)
The word “mission” has the same root as the word “missile,” a root meaning “sent”. As missionaries we have to be true to the aim of the one who sent us.
It is not our prerogative to change, edit or streamline the message. The Bible tells us that we are God’s “Ambassadors.” An ambassador holds a position of honor and respect, but not independence. She acts only as the representative of the one that sent her. She is not free to re-negotiate the terms of treaties, or change the wording of official letters.
God gave careful instructions to Israel as to how they should eat, dress, weave their clothing and even wear their hair! He did this not because there was anything sinful about cutting your beard, or anything holy about tying scriptures to your doorframe, but to symbolize their distinctiveness with regard to other nations, so that all people could see that they were different.
We would do well to remember what God told his people after he brought them into their inheritance among the nations; “be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, “How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.” You must not worship the LORD your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the LORD hates… See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it. 1
Our inheritance, of course, is the nations 2. That’s the whole purpose of the mission after all, to call the ethnos to conform to the ethos of God.