Today we wrap up Chapter Six from John Stackhouse’s Making the Best of It. We’ve been talking about “The Story and the Mission.” In the previous two posts, we looked at the Creation Commandments: Creation Mandate and the Great Commandments. Today we turn to the two Redemption Commandments: The New Commandment and the Great Commission.
The New Commandment
Stackhouse emphasizes that, “This is not a simple reiteration of the Great Commandment to love your neighbor, but a new commandment to love Christians in particular.” (216) I think his observations here are very important. In the Old Testament, the covenant people of Israel were to be a beacon to the nations via they way they conducted their affairs. The nations would be drawn into relationship with God and into their shalom by the attractive nature of their lives together. Contrary to many who want to make the church solely about outward mission, Stackhouse believes Jesus’ command parallels Old Testament Israel with the church as the shalom-filled community that draws outsiders into community and into relationship with God. We work from the particularity of our own context outward to the universal. I think Stackhouse offers and important corrective here.
The Great Commission
Stackhouse says, “What is fundamentally wrong with the world is that human worship of something of other than God." (218) If “being one” is the centripetal force that draws people in, then the Great Commission is the centrifugal force that sends the church out in mission to encourage them to abandon false gods.
So how do the Redemption commandments fit into God’s overall mission? Stackhouse writes:
To obey full the creation commandments is to live in the Kingdom of God. Thus Jesus’ proclamation of the arrival of the Kingdom is the proclamation that God is setting things right, with himself properly in the center and everyone and everything else accordingly being put in its proper place. To live in the light of the Kingdom is to live in shalom, and to seek the Kingdom is to see a world in which the creation commandments are once again honored by everyone, every moment, in everything. (219)
I thought this paragraph was particularly important:
One thing Stackhouse noticed that I have observed as well is the seeming parallel between God’s creation mandate to “fill the earth” with his co-regent eikons and the net effect of the Great Commission, which if successful, would result in a world filled with God’s co-regent eikons. The inhabited world would be brought under dominion. Old and New have the same objective.
Well, there you have it. It only took seven posts but there is my summary of “The Story and the Mission.” I’m sure I’ve massacred some of what Stackhouse has written but hopefully I’ve given you a taste of this meaty chapter. In my opinion, he has pulled together a masterful summary.
What are your thoughts about Stackhouse’s characterization of the story and mission?
Next, we will turn to Chapter Seven, “Vocation.”