Christianity has a cosmic vision. This is found in various parts of the Bible, including God’s promise in Revelation 21:5 that he will make ‘all things new’. The societal and creation-wide implications of this promise should shape our understanding of mission among East Asia’s peoples and our vision for the breadth and depth of local church witness in East Asia.
Firstly, God’s promise to make ‘all things new’ is about the radical hope of the coming of God’s kingdom.
That vision is given to motivate us to live so that our churches give people around them a foretaste of God’s future. As the Latin American theologian Justo Gonzalez says:
‘Eschatological hope is the future out of which we live. And if we do not live out of this future, we find ourselves in a position where, Paul would say, ‘our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain’ (1 Corinthians 15:14).1
The gospel we proclaim isn’t a brief ‘formula’. It is the whole biblical story of what God has done in the Lord Jesus Christ to bring redemption to the whole of his creation. We therefore have a comprehensive mission.
Our sharing the good news in all its fullness is about living God’s future now among East Asia’s peoples. If we believe that one day God ‘will wipe away every tear from their eyes’ (Revelation 21:4, ESV), then we should be anticipating that in our actions today. By bringing healing to the sick, seeking justice for the oppressed, caring for the dying, and all the time pointing people to hope found in Jesus Christ alone. In OMF we long to see indigenous biblical church movements where each congregation is a foretaste of God’s reign.
Secondly, God’s promise to make ‘all things new’ is about the radical outworking of the Lordship of Christ.
In OMF we are actively involved in evangelism, in the verbal proclamation of the good news. Integral mission is not wholistic and lacks integrity if it doesn’t include ‘the proclamation of the historical, biblical Christ as Saviour and Lord’.2
But we don’t stop at evangelism. As the Filipino theologian Melba Maggay points out, ‘experience shows that having more Christians does not necessarily ensure a just society.’3 Changed hearts do not necessarily change societies. So we need to aim for a deeper discipleship; one that works out the lordship of Christ not just over individuals, but across all dimensions of life, society and culture.
Later in Revelation 21 we read that the new creation will be filled, not only with saved people from many nations, but also with ‘the glory and the honour of the nations’ (verse 26). This promise motivates us to redeem human cultures. Yes, we do proclaim a gospel of repentance to the nations.
We stand against evil and its manifestations in our cultures. But we also long and pray for the glory and honour of East Asian nations and cultures to be brought in to the new creation. Vinoth Ramachandra puts it like this:
‘Is it too fanciful to assert that, say, the music of Beethoven and Bach, the Zen paintings of China, Jazz and African drums, Mughal architecture, Arabic calligraphy and the dances of the Polynesian islands will all find their place in the life of the eternal city?’4
For Abraham Kuyper:
‘There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry “Mine!”’5
Kuyper’s words are full of confidence and truth. Yet we need to be careful because they may not be the whole picture. The Jesus who points across that vast domain of existence is a Saviour whose ‘footprints are spattered blood. And the hand that points is marked with a wound.’6 So following this Jesus is to remember that it was the road to Calvary that led to the place of command and lordship.
‘We have no business shouting Jesus’ ‘Mine!’ with any kind of arrogance.’ That sort of tendency ‘can easily blind us to the need to go out and suffer in those many broken regions of creation where the homeless set up their crude sleeping shelters, where people grieve, and where the abused and the abandoned cry out in despair. Jesus calls us to join him there, for those square inches – and those who inhabit them – belong to him, too.’7
OMF is committed to integrated ministry. We share the good news in word, deed, character and love. But such integrated ministry and cosmic vision is also needed in the UK. The hope presented in Revelation is intended to galvanise the Church in its witness during dark times. Having this hope, we become communities of good news. And even in contexts where we feel increasingly on the margins, we are still called ‘to go out and suffer in those many broken regions’ of our communities and neighbourhoods.
Dr. Peter Rowan
OMF (UK) National Director
1 Justo L. González, A Theological Commentary on the Bible: Luke, (Louisville: John Knox Press, 2010), p243.
2 The Cape Town Commitment
3 Melba Maggay, Transforming Society, (Oxford: Regnum, 1994), p16.
4 Howard Peskett and Vinoth Ramachandra, The Message of Mission, (Leicester: IVP, 2003), p270.
5 Abraham Kuyper, “Sphere Sovereignty,” in Abraham Kuyper: A Centennial Reader, ed. James D. Bratt (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), p488.
6 Mark A. Noll, with responses by James D. Bratt, Max L. Stackhouse, and James W. Skillen, Adding Cross to Crown: The Political Significance of Christ’s Passion (Grand Rapids: Baker Books and the Centre for Public Justice, 1996), p46, in Richard J. Mouw, Abraham Kuyper: A Short and Personal Introduction, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011), p133.
7 Richard J. Mouw, p135.