In spite of claims (and thoughts) to the contrary, Jesus Christ came and died, and was buried, and resurrected for all creation (not just “Christians”). The word “Christian” was used in the negative sense (originally) to describe those who belonged to “The Way of Christ.” It was not an end-result of a conversion, but a categorical description of a people; a way of life. “Christians” described “Those belonging to Christ;” or better yet, “Those owned by Christ.” The term was intended by the hecklers to alienate those of The Way from those of the norm. But Christ, Himself, never intended to alienate anyone (nor did he intend to be normal). In fact, He intended quite the opposite.
The work of Christ (in the past, as well as the present) benefits all creation, not simply the church. The Church is the expression of Christ on earth. Both of these statements being true, then, all creation generally and all humanity in particular is the Church. Because Jesus was the Last Adam – the one to rectify the deficiency of the First Adam and his posterity (Rom. 5:14; 1Cor. 15:22, 45) – His cross and subsequent resurrection affects all humanity. Not only that, but it also affects all creation because of the place humanity was given in creation (Gen. 1:26-28). In short, Christ died (and was resurrected) for “All,” not only for some.
Obviously, however, “all” do not express Christ (whether within or without the church). Yet, this does not change the fact of the reality. What Jesus has done, with His death and resurrection, is to activate something that had been dormant in humanity since the Fall of Adam. Christ’s act did not institute an imposition of conversion, but it gave life to something that was already there; something in which we were created. It awakened the image of God in humanity. It resuscitated the Mission of God in creation, even if “all” humanity does not realize it. It transformed…
God has a mission. The mission of God has a Church. God’s mission forms the church (not the other way around). The mission of God is not concerned with conversion, but transformation. When the church has a mission it always entails a conversion (the conversion from any certain culture to a “Christian Culture;” i.e. the norm). But when the Church is empowered by the mission of God it is the expression of Christ – it is the embodiment of the death and resurrection; it is the express image of God in the resurrected life of Christ, again, in human form. Conversion is a form of alienation (despite the claims to the contrary). Transformation is the mission of God through the church (from the beginning of humanity) in community.
And what does the Mission of God in the church communicate? It communicates God’s love in the face of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. It dares to risk, necessarily involved in that love. It communicates the intent for creation generally and humanity in particular to love out of the love of transformation. In a word, the mission of God is “love” – a love that transforms brokenness and alienation into healing and wholeness.