What is the vision of the Church? That was the sermon topic one Sunday a dozen years ago or so when I visited a friend’s church. But as I listened, I found my mind wandering. I had just signed a contract to write a book on Christian worldview, and I was experiencing writer’s remorse. Did this book really need to be written?
Suddenly the pastor’s words caught my attention. The mission of the Church, he said, is to prepare for Christ’s return in five ways: prayer, Bible study, worship, fellowship, and evangelism. In that instant, all doubts about writing the book vanished. Of course, these five spiritual exercises are central to the Church’s life, but we can never overlook our responsibility to redeem all of culture as well. Though well-intentioned, the pastor’s words were a prescription for the continued marginalization of the Church.
Just like this pastor, many evangelicals define faith strictly in terms of personal salvation. Yet soul-winning is not an end in itself. We are not only saved from sin, we are also saved to something -- to the task of cultivating God’s creation. Genesis teaches that on the first five days, God did the work of creating. But on the sixth day, He made human beings in His image to carry on His work-to develop the raw materials of the world He had created.
This is called the “cultural commission,” just as binding as the “Great Commission.” It means our faith is intended to encompass every part of life, every sphere of work, every aspect of the world.
In short, our faith must be a complete worldview, the basic set of beliefs that function as a set of glasses helping us to see all of reality through God’s eyes. If God is creator and sovereign over everything, as we confess He is, then everything finds its identity and meaning in relationship to Him -- not only our spiritual life but also our work, politics, science, education, the arts, etc.
Developing a Christian worldview is not some ivory-tower exercise. It is crucial for every believer -- affecting every choice we make. The doctrine of creation tells us that God made the world with a moral and physical order -- that there are God-given norms for every aspect of creation.
If we don’t know the norms God as ordained for every area of life, then we will drift with the tide of this postmodern age, and, instead of transforming the culture, as we’re supposed to, we will transformed by it.
The mission of the Church is indeed prayer and evangelism, just as that pastor said that Sunday. But to be effective, we must also develop a comprehensive worldview. And that, too, is the urgent mission of the Church in a post-Christian world.
[By Chuck Colson]