Buzzwords like “social justice,” “missional,” and “shalom” pepper conversations about what the church should be doing for the world today. These conversations take place in the blogosphere, in bible studies, on Facebook and Twitter, in coffee shops and many other places. I’ve witnessed these words be used to sound the call to the church to wake up and do something! As a result, people feel called to do something but what that something is remains a mystery. It might have something to do with environmental stewardship, fair trade coffee, ending slavery, or a wealth of other things that connote these terms.

What Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert do most effectively in their book, What is the Mission of the Church? is answer that “deceptively complex and potentially divisive” question (16) in a tactful and biblically faithful manner. They remind the reader that “[the] story is not about us working with God to make the world right again. It’s about God’s work to make us right so we can live with him again” (89). This simple truth had become obscured in my mind by “should” and “ought” statements that I feel the Enemy has used very effectively to distract me and other believers from our main priority—which is obeying the Great Commission and making disciples (63).

Before I began reading DeYoung and Gilbert’s book, I would have said the church’s mission, God’s mission, and the individual Christian’s mission was without distinction. It’s amazing how critical it is to understand the distinction so that I can be obedient in my task here in this life and help others to be obedient too.


Diversity > Conformity

A diverse body of believers is an incredible, miraculous thing to observe. I’ve been on the SBTS campus for almost three weeks now and I’ve encountered people who in China worship in packed house churches, who were first invited to church by the roughest guy in an inner city Chicagoan neighborhood, from Haiti, from Korea, from Honduras, and from more places besides these than I could ever imagine.

We who come to Southern to study are just a small sampling of the nations. John Piper in the third edition of Let the Nations be Glad tells us to look at what God is doing throughout the whole world and reminds us of the joy we have in being able to participate in the making of God’s masterpiece. Indeed, “if a work of art continues to win more and more admirers not only across cultures but also across decades and centuries, then its greatness is irresistibly manifested…His true greatness will be manifest in the breadth of the diversity of those who perceive and cherish his beauty” (Piper 222). What an amazing thing of which to be reminded! We who are students at Southern are gathered to admire God’s true greatness which can be perceived in taking a step back, turning around, and seeing who exactly stands there trembling before God with joyful wonder (Piper 38).

The nations are far away, to be sure; but the nations are also here on this campus. It is through this framework that I will observe my classmates and remember that the God we worship has won a diverse variety of admirers.