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“The gospel calls us back again and again”

Lesslie Newbigin, a Church of Scotland missionary to India, tells us what gospel mission is all about:

“The logic of mission is this: the true meaning of the human story has been disclosed. Because it is the truth, it must be shared universally. It cannot be private opinion. When we share it will all peoples, we give them the opportunity to know the truth about themselves, to know who they are because they can know the true story of which their lives are a part.

Wherever the gospel is preached the question of the meaning of the human story–the universal story and the personal story of each human being–is posed. Thereafter the situation can never be the same. It can never revert to the old harmonies, the old securities, the old static or cyclical patterns of the past. Now decisions have to be made for or against Christ, for Christ as the clue to history or for some other clue.

There will always be the temptation, even for those within the Christian community, to find the clue in the success of some project of our own, to see our program (whether of church growth or of human development) as the success story which is going to give meaning to our lives.

The gospel calls us back again and again to the real clue, the crucified and risen Jesus, so that we learn that the meaning of history is not immanent in history itself, that history cannot find its meaning at the end of a process of development, but that history is given its meaning by what God has done in Jesus Christ and by what He has promised to do; and that the true horizon is not at the successful end of our projects but in His coming to reign.”

from Newbigin’s The Gospel in a Pluralist Society (1989), 125.