One of the problems that besets the Church is that we tend to think of Mission as something that Christians, or the Church does. Thinking of mission as primarily a human activity tends to make us narrow the scope of what we see as mission. There is a running argument as to whether social action is rightly part of mission or not. Shouldn’t mission just be about evangelism – getting people into heaven? Brian Russell shows that, rightly understood, mission is first and foremost an activity of God and that it encompasses the whole of creation. The Church’s job is to join with God in the full scope of what he is doing – not to focus in on one narrow aspect of it.
Humanity was created to participate fully in God’s mission. In Genesis 1-2, humanity’s mission is to serve as stewards of God’s Creation. This involves caring for and preserving what God has crafted. Implicit here is creativity. Humanity acts to create beauty and order out of God’s already good creation. This statement in no way suggests any imperfection in God’s work rather it implies the profound dignity and worth with which God has created people.
The existence of mission before the entrance of sin also means that mission in its totality cannot never be limited only to actions that would be labelled “evangelistic” in our current conversations. Of course, in our post Genesis 3-11 reality, efforts to draw women and men to Jesus are absolutely necessary, but mission also involves working for the overall good of creation.