How shall we live? – reflecting on the Five Marks of Mission

Another article written for a village newsletter near you…!

To look after those in society who need our help, to stand against the injustice that we see around us, to treasure and care for the environment.  Are these some of the marks of a healthy and flourishing society?

Recently I watched an episode of ‘Secret Millionaire’ with one of my sons.  In this series, someone wealthy ‘goes undercover’ in an area of Britain where they encounter others living particularly challenging lives.   They spend a week getting to know them and at the end of the week reveal that they are in fact a millionaire by giving away some of their wealth to those who they think it will help most.  This programme featured a young man who had won a considerable amount of money by playing poker.  Having spent an eye-opening week in a difficult area of Bradford, he chose to donate money to three small charities: one buying and giving toys to seriously ill children, a second giving hope and a place of safety via a youth centre, and a third run by an ex-homeless man offering those living on the streets a voice and a way back through creative writing.  He was bowled over by those he saw bringing to life the first two of the objectives with which I started – to care for those who need it most, to transform lives by standing against unjust structures.

In an interesting twist, though he had won great wealth in his poker playing, he had also ended up with a gambling addiction – chasing the money had become everything.  During his week in Bradford, he was confronted with the reality of his obsession and his own unhappiness with the way he lived.  He realised that those to whom he made donations, had less materially but were happier, healthier and making a difference.

In church, we have been exploring the characteristics of the ‘mission’ God gives us to live in his world – to care for the hurting and the maginalised, to work against injustice wherever we see it, to look after the enviroment for future generations.  And, I think, many can share these objectives whatever their faith position.  For Christians, we also consider that we are called to explain, and show, to others that Jesus is important to us; and to tell the stories of the Bible and walk together in the ways of Jesus.

But whatever faith we share (or if we have none) we can and should strive to make a difference where we live and work, so that human beings and our planet can flourish.  And that is a challenge we have to meet together.


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