“PARTNERING FOR GOD’S MISSION IN THE CONTEXT OF WORLD CHRISTIANITY”
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2016, 11:00 AM TO 2:00 PM
A delicious luncheon will be served—reservations are required
When Paul wrote his Letter to the Romans, the great missionary to the Gentiles had not yet visited the capital city of the empire. Though he had several close co-workers among the believers in Rome (Rom 16), he describes the whole church there as “God’s beloved in Rome who are called to be saints” (Rom. 1: 7a). He then addresses “God’s beloved saints” with a level of personal intimacy and in a spirit of equality you might expect to find among the tightest knit circle of friends. “I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine” (Rom. 1:11–12).
But Paul’s longing for mutual encouragement is grounded in a basic theological conviction about how we relate to each other “in Christ” and how God has distributed a variety of gifts within the body of Christ.
“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another” (Rom. 12 3–5).
The claim that “we, who are many, are one body in Christ” may sound like a familiar liturgical affirmation that is easily passed over, but Paul’s further claim that “individually we are members one of another” is staggering—especially in light of the deep and enduring divisions with the Christian family today—and one that seems so bizarre, foreign, and even uncomfortable that we may be tempted to attribute it to a momentary flight of mystical or rhetorical excess. “. . . individually we are members one of another” Really?
Especially in light of the dramatic demographic and cultural transformation of world Christianity today, I would like to explore with you some practical ways that OMSC and U.S. congregations might partner together for God’s mission today, and thereby be enriched and empowered by the divine gifts of intimacy, equality, and mutuality.
Presenter: Intercultural pastoral educator Rev. Dr. Thomas John Hastings is Executive Director of OMSC and Editor of the International Bulletin of Mission Research. He and his wife, Carol, were Presbyterian Church (USA) mission co-workers in Japan (1988–2008) and Tom was professor of practical theology at Tokyo Union Theological Seminary.