Darrell Bock: The Church Has a Mission to Take the Gospel into the World

The Table

Dr. Darrell Bock of Dallas Theological Seminary shares about his podcast, The Table, and how it factors into the mission of God.

Ed Stetzer: You often talk about tone and culture. Why is that so important?

Darrell Bock: We are convinced that the mission of the church is to take the gospel into the world. That ultimately involves extending an invitation to consider what God has done and is doing through Jesus Christ in the face of also challenging people about the way they live. This tension between invitation and challenge means that even when you disagree with how someone sees things or how he or she is living, your ultimate goal is to extend to them a hand and invite them to consider seriously the grace of God.

The mission of the church is to take the gospel into the world.

So we see, for example, Paul can be quite direct and saying what he dislikes about the world in a text like Romans 1:18-32, but when he addresses that culture directly in Acts 17, he is amazingly gracious when he invites them to consider Jesus while challenging their idols. Paul seems to have figured out that the best way to share the gospel is to be sure that the good news comes with an extended invitation even as one is asked to consider the direction of their lives. i am reminded of the passage in 2 Corinthians 5:20 that says, “We beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” This verse, which comes in the midst of discussing the church’s mission and our role in it as ambassadors for Christ, sets the tone for all cultural engagement.

This does not mean that there is no role for confrontation. However it does mean that that confrontation should never forget that the ultimate goal is to call people to consider entering into the grace of God. God’s own style of engagement was to send His Son to die for those who stood opposed to Him. I think the church in its effort to fight the culture wars has forgotten that the goal is not to conquer in a beat them down kind of victory, but to win the person over who we are engaging. This means that our love for those we challenge should never be absent. We are appealing to people made in the image of God to reconnect with Him. That core goal should lead to a tone that knows how to challenge while extending the opportunity for invitation. In doing so we also need to be clear that people are accountable to their Creator. Nonetheless he is a Creator who has gone to great lengths to show that he cares. We are to model that combination, being sure to show that the grace of God welcomes a person who humbly acknowledges his or her need for what only God can provide.

ES: Angry voices tend to get attention more than winsome ones. Why is that and what can we do?

DB: It is all too easy for Christians to get frustrated or even angry with the way many people choose to approach life. But we must never forget where we have come from. All believers are beneficiaries of God’s grace that drew us towards Him with the same needs that we now ask others to face up to and see. It is His grace that caused us to see life differently than we did before. It is God’s love as seen through the cross that drew us to Him. It is the hope of a renewed life that motivates us and that process is ongoing in all of us until God finishes that task in glory. So we are still learning and growing and being corrected by a caring God. Our model seeks to focus on a grace that is both caring and shaping.

It is God’s love as seen through the cross that drew us to Him.

If a goal of our mission is reconciliation, as the passage in 2 Corinthians 5 shows, then our actions and words need to work toward that goal. It is all too easy to fall into a kind of contentious tribalism in the way we interact and in the process lose sight of the goal that seeks to draw a person into thinking differently about God and life—to win them to a different worldview through a style of engagement that mirrors God’s character. Luke 6:35-36 tells us to love those opposed to us and uses God’s own example as our model.

This change in direction another is asked to make is rarely accomplished through anger, belittling, or sarcasm. It is done through caring, service, and communication of respect towards a fellow human being whose need matches what God can give, depending on God’s Spirit to bring a change of heart. When a person knows I care about him or her, then I am in a better place to confront what needs attention.

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SOURCE: Christianity Today
Ed Stetzer