“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.”
I have written a previous post about the Great Commission, as recorded in the Gospel of Mark, which is the basis for Christian missionary activity for the past two thousand years.
But the Great Commission is about much more: it is the driving force of love in Christianity, and perhaps, a driving force behind science during the past two millennia.
Commissioners, those acting upon the Commission of Christ, to spread the Good News, the Word, to the whole creation, are, in short, spreading love to the whole creation.
Commissioners traveled, explored, discovered, met with others, learned. All that they learned of God’s creation, natural and human, served to increase knowledge, that is, to penetrate a bit of what God is the sum of.
To work for, travel for, sacrifice for, God, is to have faith. Faith in God yields faith in self. God is the unyielding source of power and strength, the food that continually feeds, the drive that never ceases, the love that never forsakes. Love of God yields love for all of God’s creation, including love for self, love for humankind, love for nature. Love of self is the propeller for action to move in time according to a set purpose. When one feels God’s love one feels love itself, toward oneself and toward others.
It is noteworthy that the Apostle Paul makes this love for God and God’s creation the first point in his writings. In Paul’s first epistle, not in order of when written but in the New Testament–the Letter to the Romans–he said that since the beginning of time the creation itself is a testimony of God’s works and love; this awareness of God in nature is intuitive to humans, and it takes great arrogance to deny God’s existence when it is apparent in all that we see. If all humans sense God, and God is love, then all humans know God’s love. The more we know of nature, the more we know of God.
The key to world peace, to peaceful interaction, not confrontation, among peoples, is the ability to feel consciously God’s love, to encourage and sense it in others, and to share it with those who have not yet sensed it. The missionary’s ultimate goal is therefore spreading the love of God. To spread it is to feel it, to know it in oneself, and it is to recognize it in all God’s works.
This is the essence of piety, to feel overwhelming love for God because of awareness of all God’s gifts of knowledge, life, love, purpose. What God has given is awe-inspiring. The pious scientist studies natural and human history to achieve this awareness. Natural and human history, seeing God’s works over time and the wonderful intricate patterns and consistency of it all, yields continual piety, awe, in God’s plan and God’s creation. The scientist who examines cause and effect, patterns, explanations for phenomena in human and natural history, discovers God’s consistency, regularity, and order—in short, God’s love. The study of natural history is therefore the study of the origins and reasons behind the whole creation.
As the Gospel of John says, through Him [the Word] all things came to be. It has only been in the past century and a half that some humans have decided that science and religion are at odds. But to examine the history of science for the many centuries before the 1800s is to see that science and religion were joint enterprises leading to the same goal: knowledge of God.
Perhaps the skepticism among scientists, philosophers, even theologians of the past 150 years is an aberration in the whole course of things. Perhaps as our knowledge grows of the unity among all things in the universe we will become aware again that love is the basis for the entire creation. Knowing that love is behind all things, perhaps we will commit ourselves to loving all things: other humans, animals, the environment, the Earth, the universe.
For an example of an American missionary, see