Monday, November 24, 2008

Lost Themes of Mission - Eschatology...

As we learn to 'live within the contours of God's future', eschatology rather than an excuse for disengagement becomes the 'empowerment for radical engagement'.

Charles Ringma talks of a church's preoccupation that loses sight of the fact that the Christian faith is fundamentally eschatological in orientation. Something is missing when people's preoccupation for tomorrow leaves no significance or time for today. Yet a strong emphasis exists that would indicate the real danger of living for the future in such a way that the present is seen as unnecessary; a real danger of living waiting for the 'life to come' at the expense of the world now; a real danger of 'soul-saving' that has heavenly significance at the expense of the work of justice and social transformation.

I sometimes wonder if eschatology could represent a lost theme of mission?

"Why offer a sticking plaster when major surgery is required .... why offer a sleeping bag when an eternity in Hell looms ... for years we offered food now we offer Jesus and heaven..." all sentiments that mildly disturb me but invariably pop up. Sentiments that might illustrate a danger of the lack of eschatological vision. Sentiments that seem to miss the point.

"...escatological vision means something quite different. While it does have God's final future in view, the eschatological perspective has to do with the in-breaking of God's reign, and living now in the light of God's healing of all things." (2003:185)
As we learn to 'live within the contours of God's future', eschatology rather than an excuse for disengagement becomes the 'empowerment for radical engagement'. The 'fuel of hope' that 'brings a vision of a fuller future awaiting us in the healing working of God', 'encouraging us to live out now what God's future will bring into being'.

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