I remember when I was about 13 I decided to take my parents faith seriously and get baptised. This was now my faith and I wanted to live it out. Part of that living out of my faith I wanted to witness to my school mates. So I started to talk about the Gospel. I had mentioned this term “Good News” various times in conversation when I was asked a serious question. I remember it clearly. We were in the metalwork department at John Warner School in Hoddesdon. “What is this ‘Good News’ you keep talking about?” I really should have been prepared but really I wasn’t. “Er,” I said. “If you believe in Jesus, you’ll go to heaven when you die.” My friend was not impressed. Now most 13 year old boys believe that they are immortal anyway and he would have a long time to decide whether my message was good news or not. I was probably not on very biblically safe ground with my explanation and now have a rather wider understanding of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
That story serves to illustrate that a great deal of our theology of mission is based upon what we understand to be the Good News or, in short, the Gospel.
The first words of the Micah Declaration on Integral Mission say
Integral mission or holistic transformation is the proclamation and demonstration of the Gospel. It is not simply that evangelism and social involvement are to be done alongside each other. Rather, in integral mission our proclamation has social consequences as we call people to love and repentance in all areas of life. And our social involvement has evangelistic consequences as we bear witness to the transforming grace of Jesus Christ.
This declaration is suggesting that the Gospel is transformative in every aspect of human life. Evangelism is not simply the invitation to enjoy the benefits of Christ’s work but to take on the responsibility of the transformation of the social reality in which we live.
The proclamation we take part in is not the sales department of heaven but the proclamation of the establishment of the kingdom of God on this earth. It is a proclamation of the whole council of God not the individualistic ticket to heaven that much of evangelical evangelism has been about.
As Christians our salvation is not simply from the consequences of sin but the power of sin as well. We are released from the slavery of sin to become slave of Christ. That is to live as he wants us to. True freedom is not freedom to myself but freedom to be Christ’s servant.