Join us for our 2017 Conference: “Justice and the Gospel” on January 27-29!
About Missions Fest 2017 Theme: Justice and the Gospel
As I start to write down some ideas about justice to begin our dialogue for next year’s conference I am realizing how complex this topic is and how much more there is to learn. I ask for your grace as I try to expand my own understanding of this topic. If we can do a good job of inviting people at Missions Fest into that learning process then I think that we will have accomplished our goal; to stir people to explore justice further. Below are some initial thoughts about justice.
Earthly ideas of justice are riddled with inconsistencies, just as the law is riddled with loopholes. Even when we get it right there often seems to be a tension between power and the rule of law. Each of us feels a need to stand up for our rights or else be trampled on. In contrast, the biblical idea of justice is grounded in the character and nature of God. We are dealing with a God who is holy and all powerful and is always at work redeeming and reconciling – two essential activities of justice. Knowing that God precedes us and is always at work gives us hope, because rather than breaking ground, we are responding to God’s just work. We can always trust the judgements of God because he is the just judge who has our welfare at heart. God’s justice is not something that can be corrupted. He is concerned with the weak, the poor and marginalized and we know that he seeks their welfare and wants us to participate with him in that. We also know that because he loves us and provides for our needs that we can be released to love extravagantly and identify with the poor, the broken and downtrodden without concern for our own well-being. Conversely, the manifestation of God’s justice in the earth becomes tainted when we fail to trust in him fully. God’s justice extends beyond mankind to include all creation. The ultimate manifestation of justice will be the renewing of all things in the eschaton by God, and his final judgement, which should keep us hopeful and never be an excuse to stop seeking justice here on earth.
We have created a working definition of justice for this year: Justice is a right relation to God, actively overflowing to self, neighbour, and creation; a foretaste of the flourishing and peace of God’s Shalom. We have linked the word justice to the word Gospel in our theme because we believe that Gospel is more than evangelism. It’s the beautiful news that King Jesus rules and reigns, and is redeeming and reconciling all things to himself, including us.
At Missions Fest 2017 we want to express the concept of Justice as something that begins to flow when God’s people have a right relationship to him; it then naturally extends to others and to all of creation. For that reason we plan on exploring these three major movements independently in different sessions over the weekend. In addition, we will have three waypoints beginning with a call to salvation on Saturday night, a time to share communion on Sunday morning and a call to participate in Christ’s mission by making a particular commitment on Sunday afternoon.
The anchor scripture for the weekend will be the Lord’s Prayer from Mathew 6: 9-13.
John Hall, Executive Director