The Five Marks of Mission: Treasure

The Church of England along with the world wide Anglican Communion has, for more than 20 years, adopted five marks of mission, as an understanding of what contemporary mission is about.

  • To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom

  • To teach, baptise and nurture new believers

  • To respond to human need by loving service

  • To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation

  • To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth

The five marks can be summarised in five words: TELL – TEACH – TEND – TRANSFORM – TREASURE.

Over the next few months, from time to time, I plan to reflect on these and I thought I would start this month, at the end, with ‘Treasure’, which seems especially relevant as we approach our Harvest Festival season.

It’s been quite a summer, locally and internationally; though as I write this, in mid-August, the heat wave has broken here and the rain has come.  The long hot days have been for many to enjoy; but there has been cost too. Weather extremes this summer have given us, once again, pause for thought about how we are to care for and treasure the environment and the health and well-being of the planet and its inhabitants.

Care for the environment is common cause in our times. Is there a particularly Christian perspective?

The Genesis story of creation teaches that God made humankind in his own image to be his stewards of his very good creation and partners in his work. But the story of Adam and Eve is a story of rebellion, which marred relationships both with God and with his creation.  Creation lost its good stewards.

But it doesn’t end there. The biblical story is always a story of hope. The Christian hope for human transformation, which is  found in accepting that Jesus rescues us from the flaws we all know in ourselves, so that we can be restored to the image of God, is also hope for the transformation of creation, for the restoration of creation too. The bible speaks of a new creation.

Christians should expect to take up a God-given role as the environmental stewards we were made to be, working towards that new creation and working to see and treasure something of that new creation in the here and now. Being one of God’s environmental stewards might include a more just use of environmental resources in response to Jesus’ command to love our neighbour. Being one of God’s environmental stewards might mean working to be part of the new creation, by counteracting and reversing damage to the environment. We are all aware of the need to use resources wisely, to reduce waste, to recycle and so on. That may mean a life-style shift, however large or small. Being one of God’s environmental stewards might mean sharing and actively pointing out to our friends some of the glories  of God’s creative activity, as we care for our own gardens and see a tangled mess transformed into a treasured space or as we walk in the countryside or along the beach.

Is there a particularly Christian perspective on care for the environment? I suggest that a call to a God-given stewardship, a call to love our neighbour and so use environmental resource wisely and equitably, an ability to treasure God’s provision, and a confident hope in God’s transforming power in both humankind and in creation — all say yes.

May we treasure God’s blessing