The “Secret” Mission
A Theology of Redemption, Part III
We continue with the third part of an extended outline written by our director for the benefit of USCWM staff.
Winter does not want USCWM staff to think of themselves as merely part of a mission agency, but to see mission as the central drama of the Bible indeed, of all history. Mission was introduced in the foundational Covenant given to Abraham. The call to mission was then repeated throughout Scripture. In the previous installments, we caught glimpses of the upward and outward dimensions of the goals of this call, We saw these dimensions in the suing of Covenant passages in Genesis how God calls us both to be blessed and to be a blessing C'to all peoples of the earth"). We noted that five of the Ten Commandments are upward, and five are outward in orientation. We arrive now at a discussion of Jesus' summary of the Covenant: we axe to love Clod with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:30).
The Goals of The Mission:
Upward & Outward
The goals of grace (where we are going) must be carefully distinguished from the means of grace (how we are to get these). Clearly, we need to talk first about where we are going before we talk about how to get there. So where are we supposed to go? What are our goals?
Upward Love Toward God 1. Loving God with all our hearts.
Nothing could be mom important than the rare and wondrous reality of bean love toward God. This is not an achievement It is a zelationship a relationship that God initiated at infinite sacrifice! The Bible everywhere makes die heart the heart of the matter. A pure heart in worship is a goal of Grace.
While no mechanical, external fulfillment of any "means" will do more than to assist us to the reality of this goal, true "obedience of faith" certainly will, Without the heart being truly alive to the Spirit of God, all prayer times, routine or special, become empty and burdensome.
If we were to follow the mere outward pattern of the most godly person, the result would be lifeless legalism by comparison to the authenticity of the Spirit filled life descrthed by Paul in Galatians: "I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and delivered Himself up for me .... ('We) through the Spirit are waiting for the Hope of righteousness .... Walk by the Spirit and you will not live in the flesh to do its bidding" (Gal. 2:205:5,16).2. Loving God with all our souls.
In Biblical terms the word soul runs as deep as the word heart, but seems to be a more comprehensive concept, which includes the realm of "inner healing," the recesses of our conscioumess, the "psychology of our being," and the very habit structure of our thought life and behavior. This is where we talk about "ordering our private worlds"except that when we begin to talk about the means of grace it will become clear that this is not so private a matter because God has given us the fellowship and accountability of other believers in this area too.
This is preeminently the area in which the all important concern is to keep our consciences clean. Only with a clean conscience can we come to terms with failure without giving in or giving up to "gdt trips." As we grapple with priorities, which keep changing almost constantly, the remarkable cleansing of the soul that comes through obeying the truth" (I Pet. 1:22) results in the essential and rate goal of "unfeigned love? And unfeigned love alone allows us to rise to newness of life through death to our own choices in "daily dying" to self (1 Cot. 15:31,11 Cot. 4:10). and "taking up our Cross daily" (Luke 9:23).
3. Loving God with all our minds.
We may tend to think that our minds are merely like computer storage facilities. Actually, our minds follow closely upon our heart interests, and what is stored reflects greatly where our hearts have been and who we really are. The heart knows the passwords that open the files of the mind, "The heart has reasons mason knows not of." Uninterest' big subjects don't stick. We cannot be loving God with all our minds if more and more, from day to day, the things of Clod, the word of God, the concerns of God don't stick in our minds. What is it that most interests us, that most captures our imaginations? The mind reflects the heart,
God has asked us to "think His thoughts after Him." Paul says, "Set your minds on things above, not on things that are on earth" (Cot. 3:2). In Romans (12:2) he urges his readers to "be transformed by the renewing of your minds." In Phiippians he says, 'whatever is um, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things" But now we are getting into "means", which is the next chapter.
4. Loving God with all our strength.
In this area, in our staff community at least, a good deal of discussion has gone on as to goals of exercise, rest, food, etc. Surely we gain a greater appreciation for the physical potential of the human creation watching the Olympics. That can be a great inspiration to us, but not because very many believers ought to spend a third of their lives trying for a gold medal! We may want to be physically fit or physically beautiful for reasons other than to please our Creator. Those reasons, common to secular Americans, ought to pale by comparison to the goal of loving God with all our strength.
Outward Love Toward God's Creation
We are to love what God has made. We can see His glory in His handiwork. Seeing His glory enhances our love for Him (Psalm 19) and inspires our love for His creation. That creation includes a great deal to marvel about, but does not include less than people and peoples. And we learn how to love other people and peoples by taking note of how God loves us and our people.
How much more we know in detail nowadays of the wonders of His creation than Francis of Assisi who delighted in the glory of the flowers and the birds of the air! How much more easily our beans can sing because of what we can see that Francis could not see everything from the intricacies of the DNA molecule and the fascinating little nudeolides that hook into that awesome helical molecule.. . to the marvels of outer space... Francis could not have known of these things, but he saw enough to believe, to love, and to worship God and serve Him. What has God made?
A properly conceived general education, rather than being a boring siege of endless years of schooling, ought to serve to introduce us excitingly to 1) the inorganic universe, its forces (electromagnetic radiation, magnetism, gravity), its matter (molecules, atoms and sub atomic "particles"), its objects (galactic clusters, galaxies, solar systems, planets, etc.), and to2) the awesome organic add on, LIFE, an amazing phenomenon known for sure only on this planet an added symphony of lavish creativity based at every point around a single atom, carton... LIFE plant life, animal life, and, in particular, the special world of the human creature!
LIFE is like incredibly complex "software" designed to run on the "hardware" of the inorganic universe. And what a tour de force LIFE is! Even the tear fluid from the eye of a toad is composed of 64 highly complex chemicals not just water. The human creature does not bring into the picture physiological complexities inherently different from these. But the human being does demonstrate far greater complexity in the sphere of linguistic and cultural diversity and elaboration, and thus gives rise to social science as compared to natural science.
We can glory in God's glory. We can love both the what and the whom of His Creation. This is an aspect of our worship. This awe in view of the wonder and beauty of His Creation would seem to be an almost essential element in our fellowship with Hint And the most awesome thing is that, without any merit of our own, our fellowship means something to Him as well! His first love for us and our responding love for Him releases such grace in our lives that He can legitimately expect His own love for all Ills human peoples to be expressed faithfully through us just as parents may expect a faithful older child loyally to protect and succor the younger children.
But if we love God's creation as we ought to love, what shape will such a goal of grace take on? What and who will come into our lives?
1. Loving all the members of our family.
This means our continuing relation to our biological families (or the equivalent in the case of adopted or foster children). For those who are married, this includes relatives on both sides but especially on the side of the family whose jurisdiction is acknowledged to continue on. We regard the authority of the family as primary, and that of our task community as secondary as something that can only properly be derived through a clear understanding with the families. This is the concept of second,nent.
2. Loving all the members of our task community.
Here is where our opportunity to love our fellow workers comes in. Everyone's basic commitment on our staff is:
1) To embrace our community's understanding of the Covenant so as to allow it to deli our personal aspirations and those of the community.
2) To help other members of the community to do so.
3) To welcome the help of other members in our own attempts to do so.
But we must not be merely a mutual admiration society or become spiritually musclebound. We do not properly love each ohm if we do not enhance each other's effective outward love in the other three categories. Indeed, most of our work at the Center is designed to reach indirectly out around the world, where needs generally exceed and outrank the needs of anyone else to whom we minister in our direct relationships in the first three categories. The only exception would be those special people who classify as "multiplying good ground."
3. Loving all other given relationships.
Beyond our family, beyond the needs and return ministry of our fellow taskcommunity members, there are the accumulated acquaintances of our lives to whom, in some cases, we may minister more effectively than any other human being. We mug be open and sensitive to acquired responsthilUies in this area. These include people on our Christmas card lists, so to speak, our support lists, our larger prayer letter lists indeed, all of the people with whom we have come into contact in such a way as to allow and elicit from us some ministry.
Certainly to be included here are all who write to the Center for whatever reason from the area or sphere of constituency to which we am assigned at a distance, as well as those in the local, Southern California area to which we are assigned for face to face ministry.
4. Loving all others and all else.
Here is where all that is beyond our direct reach comes into our prayers, our planning, and our potential future involvement, and illuminates and lightens the necessarily indirect labors comprising the basic goals of our task. community.
Probably the largest needs and the greatest problems lie beyond car directministry. This is why we do well always to try to recruit people who are "ready for any good work" (Titus 3:1) to join us in the thankless, unsung, inglorious, indirect work that alone can address the greatest needs and obstacles facing the Secret Mission. Hopefully a great deal of our direct work either leads to or stimulates interest in this category.
Following Dawson Trotman, we need constantly to ask, just as we urge others to ask: "Am I doing something others can do or will do while there are things to be done that others can't do or won't do?"