Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

Mission and Eschatology (5)

Is there a way to explain Revelations 20 in such a way that it fits in with the rest of the Bible while, at the same time giving us acceptable ways of looking at missions which will fit in with what the Bible teaches on the subject? I believe there is. Most theologians does not accept the idea that Christ will return twice. Neither do I. But how should we then understand the thousand years of peace? In line with the rest of Revelations I would say that the thousand years should not be understood as a literal time span of 1000 years but that it should rather be understood in a symbolic way, indicating the power of God. Christ has already conquered Satan (Colossians 2:13-15) and although Satan is not dead yet, he does not have a free hand to do whatever he wants to. When Christ comes again, Satan will however be defeated completely (Revelations 20:10).
In comparison with the thousand years in which Christ reigns, Satan only reigns for three and a half years. If this is also understood symbolically as an indication of the power (or rather the lack of power) of Satan, then it means that Satan is really nothing compared to God (three and a half against one thousand!)
How would this viewpoint influence one’s understanding of missions? Firstly it helps one look at world history in an optimistic way, while at the same time retaining realism. Christ is in control (optimism) but Satan still has some restricted power (realism). Satan has already been defeated (optimism) but he will be totally defeated when Christ comes again (realism).
Secondly, when Satan came into the world he corrupted everything (man, nature, relationships, etc). When Jesus came, He came to save the world (John 3:16) and not only the souls of some people. Therefore, in missions, our aim should be to proclaim the authority of God over the world. And how is this done? By getting involved with the world! People are called by God to bear the fruit of their salvation. Therefore we can expect that the world should also bear the fruit of salvation. This means, according to this viewpoint, that I, as Christian, need to get involved in everything which was corrupted by sin: helping to repair relationships between human beings, between human beings and God as well as between human beings and nature. When I, as Christian, get involved with sickness, this becomes part of my mission. If I, as Christian, get involved in fighting against global warming, then it becomes part of my mission. If I as Christian help to solve the problem of hunger in the world, then this becomes part of my mission. If I proclaim the salvation in Christ over sin and help people come into a living relationship with Him, then that is also part of my mission.
And this is all done with the belief that one day Christ will indeed come again, at which time everything will be made perfect. But until that day comes, I, as Christian, should be busy proclaiming the power of God through my words and through what I am doing.
And this is missions!

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Monday, November 19, 2007 - Posted by | Eschatology, Hope, Millennianism, Mission, Social issues, Theology

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