The traditional definition of the term mission has always carried with it the connotation of redemption or salvation and because of this salvation and redemption are seen as the central tasks of mission. It is with this understanding that Piper declares that “when this age is over and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, mission will be no more” (2010:17). If this is so why were Adam and Eve created, and what mandate did God give them? And why will the redeemed be gathered in the New Creation (Revelation 21-22)? Are they without a task to carry out? If they all have tasks given to them by God who created and redeemed them, is it possible to come up with a definition of mission that embraces their tasks as well, thereby freeing the term mission from the redemption or the salvation connotation?
This study investigates the possibility of coming up with a definition that does not carry with it the salvation or redemption connotation, and one that sets the term free, thereby locating mission in all the divisions of the biblical storyline or the biblical grand narrative: namely, the creation, the fall, the redemption and the consummation or the new creation. To do this the study takes the following as its working definition for mission: “the reason or purpose of one’s existence”. Thus, mission lies in the question of why we were created. God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth and over all the creeping things that creep upon the earth”(Genesis 1:26). Using this definition and the theme of the kingdom of God, the study demonstrates that God’s mission to human beings and to the whole created order comes to us through the call of Adam, the call of Abraham and the call of Jesus. The study acknowledges that these three personalities mark the three phases in God’s plan and purpose for mission. If these three Adams are taken out of the picture, mission cannot be fully understood.
Looking at the call of Adam, the call of Abraham and the call of Jesus, the study notes that in the call of Adam God sets the pattern for his kingdom. Adam’s call to mission is the foundation of all that is to come. In the call of Adam, humanity is called to “represent God’s kingship through the whole range of human life on earth” (Peskett &Ramachandra 2003:37) to share in God’s reign. Thus, humanity is to be the people of the kingdom: “God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule enjoying God’s blessing” (Roberts 2002:32). All the calls to mission that follow after Adam’s call are about reclaiming that which was lost. In other words, these calls are more of a journey back to that which was lost; it is more a question of establishing a community that will live up to God’s mandate to Adam. It is from this point of view that the study takes its title “Mission as the Creation of a God-ward Culture: God’s Mandate to Adam, Abraham and Jesus”. This has been humanity’s mandate from creation and will continue to be its mandate until the consummation. Even though God’s call comes on different levels and under different circumstances or stages in human history, the primary goal for mission still remains the same: that of bringing about and affirming the reign of God. This is the reason for humanity’s existence in every generation.