Covenantal Missiology

Covenant is not only one of the overarching motifs in Scripture, but also a hermeneutical key for our understanding of mission itself. Covenant presumes an election. N. T. Wright’s in The Authority of Scripture penned that in election, God sets a purpose, but in covenant, God sets the relationship.

What Wright is really saying is that the mission of God cannot be accomplished without the God of the mission. Purpose and mission are mutually dependent. Even when thinking about the mission of the church as missio ecclesiarum, one should understand it as an extension of the missio Dei. Mission is the synthesis in the dialectic, but covenantal relationship between God and the Church.

In our culture today we have built a dichotomy between relationship and work. Both have come to represent two polarized spheres that should never intersect. One side is personal and the other is professional. This philosophical approach led to a prioritization of the task over the relationship. This happens to such an extent that the inherent values of a person, as interpreted through the Imago Dei, are diminished in the pursuit of a mechanistic utilitarian functionality of the relationship itself.

In the process of decision-making, the professional approach calls people to leave the personal sphere aside. The personal should not interfere in your professional performance and thus we can say things like, “it’s not personal, it’s business.” This not only rearranges priorities, but perpetuates injustice through a performance-based and trade-value market system.

God’s covenant-relationship model speaks prophetically against utilitarian value judgments. The concept of Covenantal Mission teaches us that every every person in indispensable to God’s mission and every task is to be performed through relationship with God’s self. A recent study uncovered that traditional missionaries account for .01% of all believers in North America. The professional missionary model prevalent in the last century promulgated a message that mission is for a select few. For those who disassociate the personal from the professional. While there’s a place for career missionaries, God’s model however sustains that the whole Church is called preach the whole Gospel to the whole world.

Covenant is the framework where God’s self is revealed and God’s truth is enacted. The Bible shows us that God’s glory always inhabits the place of covenant. In the Tabernacle of Moses, God’s glory filled the sanctuary and Israel experienced YHWH’s power, love and mercy. Likewise, in the days of Solomon, the glory of God filled the temple and it became a house of prayer for all nations. In the New Testament, the glory of God tabernacles in Christ once and for all in the temple of His body, reconciling the world to God and to each other in the Church.

Mission is synthesis of the election and covenant of God with God’s people. It is in the Church, as the Body of Christ, that truth is enacted to dismantle structures of injustice and His glory is revealed as the actuation of God’s kingdom on earth.

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