What is God’s Mission? Honor as Missio Dei
Since the 1950’s Christian missiology has used the phrase missio Dei (Latin for the ‘sending/mission of God’) to frame God’s missional, saving activity in the world. What is the missio Dei in scripture? How exactly is God working to save people?
Honorification is missio Dei. God is working in human history to remove people’s shame and restore honor. Obviously, ‘honorification’ is not 100% synonymous with God’s multi-faceted salvation, but it is a helpful paradigm for summarizing God’s work. Consider these highlights from salvation-history.
- God Honored Adam at Creation – Adam & Eve were crowned with honor and glory (Ps 8:6) as God’s exalted co-regents in the world.
- God Honored Abraham – Once humanity lost their status and attempted to remake an exalted name (Gen 3-11), God restarted his plan by honoring Abram with land, a blessing, patronage, a multitude of descendants (Gen 12:2-3).
- God Honored Israel – Once slaves in Egypt, Yahweh selected Israel to be his treasured possession and exalted the nation/king over all the other nations.
- Jesus Honored – Jesus tangibly mediated a new honor to those marginalized in Israel through his healing, table fellowship, and teaching. Then his disgraceful death conquered the false powers of shame and pioneered the way for our honorification.
- God Honored Jesus – The resurrection was a public vindication of Jesus’ honor. At the resurrection Jesus was ‘enthroned’ as the world’s true King with authority, power, exalted name, and angelic praise.
- God Honors Believers in Jesus – Those who believe in Jesus have their shame removed and are granted infinite honor as children of God and heirs of all spiritual authority and riches.
Each of these points can be filled out in greater detail, but the point here is to draw a picture of missio Dei with broad brushstrokes, showing how God’s mission is honorification.
GOD HONORS! GOD DIGNIFIES!
Understanding honor and shame is far greater than interpreting select bible verses or modifying an evangelistic presentations, as it ultimately helps us better grasp missio Dei as honorification…and encourages us to honor others unto the honor and glory of God. While we may debate the nature of missio Dei, everyone agrees the current mission of the Church continues God’s original mission to the world. Honor defines the original intention and eschatology purpose of God’s salvation. We (i.e., the people of God, the church) have been called into the missio Dei to proclaim and mediate God’s honor to people.
- What are the dangers (and benefits) of summarizing missio Dei as honorification?
- Is this a helpful paradigm for interpreting salvation-history and guide for contemporary mission?
Click here for a fuller explanation of the Bible’s Story in terms of HonorShame.