Paul notes – A quite Provocative excerpt (particularly his concluding statements, which I've boldened) from an essay by Christopher J H. Wright. While I still want to advocate for the explicit presence of shalom at the heart of a holistic understanding of mission, Wright makes some important points:
“Perhaps what we most need to learn, since we so easily forget it, is that mission is and always has been God's before it becomes ours. The whole Bible presents a God of missional activity, from his purposeful, goal-oriented act of Creation to the completion of his cosmic mission in the redemption of the whole of Creation—a new heaven and a new earth. The Bible also presents to us humanity with a mission (to rule and care for the earth); Israel with a mission (to be the agent of God's blessing to all nations); Jesus with a mission (to embody and fulfill the mission of Israel, bringing blessing to the nations through bearing our sin on the Cross and anticipating the new Creation in his Resurrection); and the church with a mission (to participate with God in the ingathering of the nations in fulfillment of Old Testament Scriptures).
But behind all this stands God with a mission (the redemption of his whole Creation from the wreckage of human and Satanic evil). The mission of God is what fills the Bible from the brokenness of the nations in Genesis 11 to the healing of the nations in Revelation 21-22. So any mission activity to which we are called must be seen as humble participation in this vast sweep of the historical mission of God. All mission or missions that we initiate, or into which we invest our vocation, gifts, and energies, flows from the prior mission of God. God is on mission, and we, in that wonderful phrase of Paul, are "co-workers with God."
We ask, "Where does God fit into the story of my life?" when the real question is, "Where does my little life fit into the great story of God's mission?"
We want to be driven by a purpose tailored for our individual lives, when we should be seeing the purpose of all life, including our own, wrapped up in the great mission of God for the whole of creation.
We wrestle to "make the gospel relevant to the world." But God is about the mission of transforming the world to fit the shape of the gospel.
We argue about what can legitimately be included in the mission God expects from the church, when we should ask what kind of church God expects for his mission in all its comprehensive fullness.
I may wonder what kind of mission God has for me, when I should ask what kind of me God wants for his mission.
We invite God's blessing on our human-centered mission strategies, but the only concept of mission into which God fits is the one of which he is the beginning and the end…”