Another school year has begun at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando. One of the surprising elements of this semester has been my Mission’s class. One of our many assignments is Bosch’s classic on Missiology. Bosch may come to unique conclusions, but his conclusions are well worth studying. One of the central themes of Bosch is that the Missio Dei is rooted in the person of God. In other words, Missions is an ontological concept. It is a triune effort to bring the message of God to the nations. Unlike the popular truncated notion that missions serve merely as a tool to save sinners from God’s wrath, Bosch and others argue that it encompasses much more than the spiritual dimension. God is indeed concerned about the redemption of the cosmos.
The general tendency of the church has been to compartmentalize the work of missions to a mere category of the church (side by side with youth ministry, catechism class, etc,). Nevertheless, missions is not an aspect of the church, it is the overarching goal of the church.
There are sociological reasons/factors that contributed to the spread of Christianity in the 1st century. Among them is the Pax Romana, which facilitated the message to be preached in Rome. Also, the advantage of the formation of Koine Greek. It was the language of commerce. The disciples were able to communicate in the language of the people. There is however, one substantial concept that outweighed all other ingredients to the success of the gospel in the years following Christ’s ascension, and it was the love of God’s people. I am aware that this concept has a bad connotation in our Christian environment, which can even at times be equated with anti-intellectualism. But allow me to dismantle that concept and prove the strength of love in bringing the pagan to Christ. It was out of all people Julian the Apostate who wrote that “the Christians support their own poor but also the poor pagan.” Notice that their love even compelled pagans to admit the unthinkable. Remember that to hear Julian say that is equivalent to hearing Marilyn Manson praising Christianity. It is a fearful thing to love those who hate you, because in turn God’s grace may operate in powerful ways.