What is the kingdom of God about?
Is it primarily about a future life with God in heaven? Or is it something different?
Why did Jesus say the kingdom of God is within you or among you?
Could it be that it has more to do with how we live our lives here on earth?
After all, Jesus told us to pray that God’s kingdom would come on earth as it is in heaven. And what does all this have to do with our work as an international aid and development organisation? Is what we are doing a digression from the gospel or is it central to the gospel? Is what we are doing living out the gospel, or is the work of alleviating poverty and injustice an addition to the real work of getting people into heaven?
"These are some of the questions that cause us to examine ourselves as a Christian aid and development organisation."
aim is to bring positive changes to the communities we work with
through effective development, advocacy and relief programs. Our
Christian identity informs and underpins all of who we are and therefore
how we go about doing this work.
We hold the conviction that the work we do is central to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
It is not an addition to, or a digression from, the ‘real’ work of the Gospel. The biblical narrative has at its core the renewal of the whole of God’s creation. From the first words of Genesis, where God declares all of His creation ‘very good’, and from which sin then enters the world, there is an underlying thread of God wanting to renew all things and inviting us to participate with Him in this ongoing work. The Christian story is about a God who has come to earth in the person of Jesus Christ. We need to view the world as He views it. This is from the viewpoint of the poor.
Apart from working with God to renew His world, the work we do involves following Jesus Christ and seeking to live out His compassion and love for the poor and marginalised throughout God’s world. It also involves working against the injustices that make and keep millions of people poor throughout the world. In this we are inspired again by the life of Jesus and the prophets, those servants of God who spoke out boldly and fearlessly about the injustice that was going on around them, and constantly called God’s people back to her God.
- Nils von Kalm, Christian Resources & Care team, World Vision Australia
Our Christian Identity is covered by three statements:
- Working with God to renew His world (our longer term development work)
- Living out the compassion of Christ (our humanitarian and emergency response work)
- Standing in the prophetic tradition (our advocacy work)
You can read more about each of these aspects below.
Working with God to renew His world
(our longer term development work)
Jesus prayed that the kingdom of God would come on earth as it is in heaven. The coming of the kingdom, inaugurated by Jesus, is seen in the renewal of the world through acts of love, justice and peace. God, who builds the kingdom, is a relational God with whom we seek to work in partnership in renewing the world.
The Gospels record that Jesus spoke of the kingdom of God 110 times. It
was the topic He spoke about more than anything else. In His life, death
and resurrection, the kingdom of God has broken into history. It is a
kingdom in which love, justice and peace reign supreme, and where Jesus
as the King is the bringer of all these things. Download full statement
The picture of God that is revealed to us in Scripture is of a God who
is relational. God is a Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – the
‘eternal community’ as psychologist Larry Crabb describes it. As a
Christian organisation, we seek to embody this sense of a self-giving,
redemptive, eternal, and serving community. Our mission involves the
privilege of working with God in partnership to renew the world that God
created and to play a part in establishing the Kingdom “on earth as it
is in heaven.”
Paul’s letter to the Colossians says that Jesus is the one through whom
everything was created, and Jesus Himself said that the Kingdom of God
is in your midst . His physical resurrection in history shows that He
leads us by example. Jesus empowers us and sends us out to work with Him
to “make all things new.” This means we are to work with Him until He
consummates the Kingdom, when all of creation will no longer be subject
to decay but will finally be liberated from its bondage to death,
corruption and injustice.
At World Vision Australia we understand our mission as working with God
in the task of renewal through our development work in the form of Area
Development Programs and other projects which focus on issues such as
food security, water and sanitation, education, health, and economic
Living out the compassion of Christ
(our humanitarian and emergency response work)
The exercise of compassion is an essential outworking of the identity of World Vision Australia as a Christian organisation. It is shown most clearly in our relief work around the world. As we seek to respond to the many disasters that befall our world, we do so motivated by the unconditional love and compassion of Christ.
The exercise of compassion is an essential outworking of the identity of
World Vision Australia (WVA) as a Christian organisation. It is shown
most clearly in our relief work around the world. As we seek to respond
to the many disasters that befall our world, we do so motivated by the
unconditional love and compassion of Christ. Download full statement
The overarching picture of God revealed in the Bible is that of a God of
infinite love and compassion. The compassion of God is manifested in
different ways throughout the biblical narrative, and is most fully
revealed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Jesus spent His ministry performing acts of compassion without regard
for people’s race, religion, gender or status. The early church in the
1st century, as well as millions of Christians throughout the
centuries, have sought to do the same. We are privileged to have the
opportunity to continue this work.
Compassion inevitably involves suffering. Throughout the Gospels Jesus
is revealed as the Man of Sorrows spoken of many years previously by the
prophet Isaiah. Jesus enters into the suffering of the world to make
the ultimate sacrifice to set the world to rights. It is this Jesus who
inspires and empowers us to “go and do likewise” , to embody His
compassion to the “least of these” , and to do it in His name.
Standing in the prophetic tradition
(our advocacy work)
Development and relief is only part of what we do.
As a Christian organisation, advocating for those with no voice in the tradition of the Old Testament prophets and of Jesus is essential if we are to be true to who we are.
The work of World Vision Australia (WVA) is often seen in terms of development and relief, and that certainly is a major part of what we do. It is not, however, all that we do. A significant part of our work is that of advocacy, and for WVA as a Christian organisation, that means nothing less than standing in the tradition of prophetic engagement with the powers. Download full statement
The Old Testament has a consistent theme running through it of speaking out against injustice. The prophets’ main concern was to bring Israel back to her God, and prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah and Amos (to name but a few), boldly spoke in the name of the God of justice for his rule to be evident on earth. We find the tradition continuing in the New Testament in the life of Jesus and the early church as they confronted the powers of the day and stood up for those who were powerless.
To ignore the need for exposing injustice is to neglect our calling as people claiming to work in the name of Jesus. Our work of development and relief is meaningless if the structures and powers that keep people poor are not changed as well. For such is human nature that it is these very structures and powers that have the ability to wind back the work of development and relief that we work so hard to implement. Our ministry therefore must include standing in the prophetic tradition of the prophets, Jesus, and the early church.
Paper: Mapping a theology of Change for Christian development organizations Christian development organizations are actively seeking sustainable change in the world.
They want to see lasting improvements in the lives of the poor. But how does change happen? At the core, what do Christian organizations believe about how change occurs? How is a Christian theology of change different from various secular theories of change? And what can Christians learn from secular development theories? What is it about a Christian approach to development that is truly distinctive?
This paper, prepared by Bob Mitchell, Director of Christian Resources & Care at World Vision Australia, begins to map out some distinctive elements of a Christian theology of change.
Download full paper now