By Way of the Least

Posted: May 26, 2011 in Things of Faith
Cover of "Bible and Mission: Christian Wi...

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Recently, I reread a small book written by my former teacher, Richard Bauckham. In it he makes a statement that I’m sure I read before but somehow it didn’t strike me as it did this time. In the second chapter of his book, Bible and Mission, he argues that the biblical narrative moves from the particular to the universal. He observes in this movement four different “strands:” “From Abraham to all the families of the earth,” “From Israel to all the Nations,” “The King who rules from Zion to the ends of the earth,” and “To all by way of the least.” It is the last narrative pattern that I find so relevant.

For the western church which greatly resembles the ancient church in Corinth, it is this last strand that becomes a stumbling block. Bauckham not only argues convincingly that this narrative pattern communicates a kingdom in which there is no privilege, but he says “It is these—the poorest, those with no power or influence, the wretched, the neglected—to whom God has given priority in the kingdom, not only for their own sake, but also for the rest of us who can enter the kingdom only alongside them.[1]

I wonder sometimes what the church would look like if we actually practiced what we say we believe? Admittedly, in some cases that may be the problem.

[1][1][1] Richard Bauckham, Bible and Mission: Christian Witness in a Postmodern World. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 2003), 54.

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