“It must not be supposed that the Church considers this the fulfillment of its mission [providing good, wholesome opportunities for entertainment, diversion, and leisure in Christian fellowship to help provide for the natural desires and for the benefit of the people]. It is but one of the attempts of the Church to serve the real needs of the community. The real mission of the Church is
never lost sight of, that is, to bring individuals into the Kingdom of God and to make them realize their personal relationship with Jesus Christ as their Saviour. The Episcopal Church is not apprehensive of the effect of its social emphasis because it has its foundation most firmly rooted and does not distrust its people. It believes that social service is a natural outcome of its fundamental principles. Its whole structure is comprehensive and not exclusive.
“The Church’s message truly presents vision of that greater democracy for which the righteous nations of the earth are yearning. It is a democracy whose fundamentals are justice, righteousness and the abundant spirit of service that will secure for the people what no form of economic democracy will ever achieve. For nations seeking national and social salvation from the ills that afflict them, as well as for individuals, Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The Gospel of Christ is the only national Character of Liberty that can guarantee national salvation, the only power equal to the task of exalting a nation. The Church presents this Gospel.”
George Parkin Atwater, “The Episcopal Church: Its Message for Men Today,” 1950, pp. 167-168. (Originally published in 1917)
I think we all too often let everything else usurp the “Real Mission.” Frankly, the real mission isn’t politically-correct and is disconcerting to many, yet life to so many others. If we, as the Church, are a unique organization offering real and honest alternatives (not just for the sake of offering alternatives, for then we are resigning our responsibility), then there must be something alternative about us.
If the “Kingdom of God” is a real thing, it must be evident in the lives of those who claim to be citizens of such a Kingdom. If the image of such a Kingdom is not evident in the lives of the citizens of the Kingdom, then what use is it as a real alternative? It isn’t, and that’s why far too many people – particularly younger people – no longer consider the Church or Christianity as viable for or pertinent to their own lives. We too often give up our real mission for the sake of expediency or popularity. As a result, all too often those who claim to be citizens of the Kingdom of God no longer reflect the high values of the Kingdom. Too often, we are usurped by socio-political ideology whether conservative or liberal, the lust for power, and greed (among lots of other things).
The way to realize such an alternative for the good is not easy, is not particularly popular, and as such is ignored, ridiculed, and rejected by many. Yet, the real mission of the Church is to call people to this Kingdom recognizing that we are imperfect, but our own imperfection does not change the way for realization of the Kingdom. Here, we proclaim, is the path to the Kingdom of God, born by the work of Jesus Christ, already realized by multitudes from the vast array of cultures and peoples over centuries – we proclaim this truth to all who wish to follow. We are on our way and extend the invitation to all who wish to join us.
Is it real, this Kingdom, this life? Only our experiences within it and the image of God revealed through us by way of such experiences will tell.