I have two learnings from my work with evangelism and mission:
- Evangelism belongs inside of mission.
- We all live in at least seven mission fields each day – home, work, the local community, the wider world, leisure, spiritual health, and the church’s life and outreach. Only a few are front and center daily but all seven are always present one way of another. In each, we are God’s co-worker in that place seeking to bring or to increase love and justice there. In the midst of work for love and justice is the time and place best suited for evangelism – for the good news of God’s gift of the Spirit and the call to join God’s mission in Jesus Christ to make the world more loving and more just.
Further, experience keeps confronting me with the reality that it is in our mission in the wider world that we come up the shortest. Its issues are loaded with strong convictions; so strong that most clergy are very reluctant to address them. Church members do not get trained in basic principles. The result is that Christian witness on a host of truly non-controversial issues is muted to the point of sheer silence!
So, in today’s world, we can benefit from fresh ways to define our familiar words of love and justice. I find strong affirmation of these fresh – and biblical – ways to define some basic vocabulary:
- Love occurs when, without limit, we seek to value others as they really are and to care for them, to forgive their faults, and to help them put their skills and talents to their best possible use.
- Justice is the “public” face of love. In public life, we love by seeking for everyone equal access to the good things in life – whatever helps people to become all that they are created to be and to put their skills and talents to their best possible use
- Evil is whatever blocks love and justice. Evil separates people from God and from one other.
- Sin can be understood as evil chosen consciously.