The mission of the church by Howard Belben

I am rereading the late Howard Belben’s (one of the key influencers in my teenage years) book on the mission of Jesus. He seems to me to be a man ahead of his time, or maybe just one who has allowed biblical ideas to shape him, rather than the latest fad and fashion to sweep through christian – land. Here is a brilliant passage from his chapter on the attitude of Jesus written in 1969:

“We do not call ourselves apostles, but we are “sent ones” all the same, for the Great Commission to the apostles has been handed down to the Church. “I have sent them into the world” applies to us, and we should not forget that Jesus said “into the world” and not say “into the Church” for too long the Church has been for some an escape from the world; but there is now a rediscovery of the Church’s mission, and a fresh recognition that the world is God’s world and that He sends us into it and not out of it (John 17:11).

So the Christian, like Jesus, can be sure of his calling he stands in the world neither intimidated by its hostility nor arrogantly scornful of it. His is not the self-confidence that borders on brashness; it is the God-confidence of the one who knows that God has sent him.

There has been a crisis of confidence among Christians, conscious of living in a secular age. The morale of many is low and their attitude in face of the world reflects the fact. One of our great needs is to recover what Jesus had: the confidence of one sure of his calling.”


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