Friday, 29 May 2015

Tim Chester on Mission Matters

Tim Chester, Mission Matters: Love Says Go (Nottingham: IVP, 2015), 165pp., ISBN 978-1-78359-280-7.

Tim Chester has written very helpfully, in several places, on the significance of everyday mission – the people of God reaching out to others, in word and deed, in the rhythm of their daily life. This is not a reworking of that material, although it complements it very nicely.

The focus here is on world mission. Truth be told, I was a bit disappointed to begin with, but ended up grateful for the recalibration. It’s a timely reminder to those of us who have banged the drum for mission in the everyday arenas in which we find ourselves that we’re sometimes in danger of disregarding the larger, global picture. We should do the former whilst not neglecting the latter – the ‘sending’ and ‘going’ traditionally associated with Scripture’s commissioning texts. The gospel really is to be taken to all nations (not just the nations represented by those who happen to be our neighbours or colleagues).

The book unfolds in four parts:

• The God of mission – with mission flowing out of the love of the Father, and carried out in the name of the Son and the power of the Spirit, where our mission is an extension of the mission of the triune God, done with God’s authority and backing.

• The story of mission – in the promise for all nations as told in the overarching narrative of Scripture, and in Jesus as the fulfilment of the hope of all nations.

• The scope of mission – everyone, with the church at its heart; everything, with proclamation at its centre; everywhere, with the unreached as the priority.

• The challenges of mission – the cultural challenge (with some very helpful summaries of discussions on culture and contextualisation) and the personal challenge (with Tim replaying the ‘four liberating truths’ about God he’s explored elsewhere – that God is gracious, glorious, great, and good), concluding with a reminder from Romans of Paul’s ambition to proclaim Christ where Christ is not known.

As with Tim’s other books, this one is well written, rooted in Scripture, theologically rich, illustrated along the way with helpful examples, and with pointers for ongoing practice.

Here are some lines that particularly caught my eye:

‘We are not given a task which matches our powers. We are given a power (the Holy Spirit) which matches our task (winning the nations).’ (46)

‘Abraham is not chosen instead of the nations, but for the nations.’ (55)

‘Mission involves all that Jesus sends us into the world to do.’ (94)

‘Mission is love in action. Jesus not only gave us the Great Commission to make disciples. He also gave us the Great Commandment to love our neighbour.’ (96-97)

‘The Christian life is all about mission because the Bible is all about mission.’ (146)

The book is published as part of the ‘Keswick Foundations’ series. The Keswick Convention has been committed throughout its history to challenging people with a call to overseas mission, and the book is sprinkled throughout with vignettes of those who responded and went.

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