Some evangelicals talk as though personal evangelism and public justice are contradictory concerns, or, at least, that one is part of the mission of the church and the other isn’t. I think otherwise, and I think the issue is one of the most important facing the church these days.

First of all, the mission of the church is the mission of Jesus. This mission doesn’t start with the giving of the Great Commission or at Pentecost. The Great Commission is when Jesus sends the church to the world with the authority He already has (Matthew 28:18), and Pentecost is when He bestows the power to carry this commission out (Acts 1:8).

The content of this mission is not just personal regeneration but disciple-making (Matthew 28:19). It is not just teaching, but teaching “them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20).

This mission is not inconsistent with what we have seen already in the life of Jesus. His mission is defined by Old Testament expectation (for instance, Psalm 72), and in the Gospel accounts in terms of redemptive love for the whole person, both body and soul. From the literally embryonic moments of the Incarnation, such terms are present in Mary’s prayer about the coming of her Messiah (Luke 1:46-55), and then in Jesus’ own inaugural words about His Kingdom’s arrival (Luke 4:18-19).

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