Hearing the Music

On Mission

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The Missions Festival is in full swing. It’s been a joy to see, hear and even taste of other cultures and countries. If you’re like me, exposure to these sorts of experiences and ideas leaves me asking a single question: Why? Why do we consider other cultures and countries? Why connect to them? Why spend our valuable time, and often money, on this sort of thing? Why do we keep doing this? Is it simply to know more, see more, to be more “well-rounded” Christians? I guess what I am asking and wondering is: is there more to these sorts of things than meets the eye (or the occasional taste bud)?

When we look to the Bible to answer this, we get a resounding, "yes". It may not surprise you that mission was at the heart of Jesus’ incarnation and ministry. To say Jesus was “on mission” seems a bit silly to say because it seems so...obvious. However, in an evangelical world that seems to tag “missional” onto just about everything, tagging it onto the life of Jesus is actually a correct fit. Consider what Jesus says early in his ministry: “but he said to them, 'I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose'" (Luke 4:43). Jesus names what he is doing as preaching, as taking “the good news” to different towns; that is his purpose. In other words, he is on mission. Also, consider Jesus’ parting words known as the Great Commission in Matthew 28 to his disciples. He is having them "go, make disciples… of all nations." His value of mission was passed on to his disciples. This certainly isn’t a new theme in the Bible either. God was fully aware of this dynamic when he was sending Israel into the Promised Land. The same can be said for the distinctives God was giving the Israelites in Leviticus about what it looked like to be YHWH followers.

So, let's attempt an answer to the many "whys" that were asked. We are on mission because Jesus takes mission seriously, and as Christ-followers we also take mission seriously. Highlighting the way Christ Church is on mission through the Missions Festival is more than tastes, words and experiencing other cultures, it’s being faithful to our call as Christ-followers in our current context. We are seeking to expose many others, in many other nations, to the saving power that is offered through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Illustration by Lillian Fuller

Posted by Addison Hawkins

It takes a lot of humility to ...

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Our C-Group has been involved in watching and discussing Regent University’s Reframe course. Most recently the discussion focused around the Spirit and the Church and the idea that all of us are pulled into the story of the Kingdom as it is worked out in the world. Furthermore, it is the church, throughout history, with all its flaws that God has ordained to be the carrier of this mission. It is in this context that the speaker made an extraordinary statement, namely, it takes a lot of humility to go to church.

For some reason this statement really struck me and we had quite a discussion on the truth of the statement. For starters coming to church takes humility because things are not always optimized for my tastes. We frequently sing songs that aren’t my groove. Not all of the scripture teaching is that exciting, or even that pertinent, at least not at first blush. In church we put up with people who are different than us. They are often challenging, seeing things differently than me. It takes humility to go to church.

It also takes humility to go to church because going to church is an admission of need. We need to hear from the Lord, to be taught from his Word. We need the fellowship of other believers. We need their care. We need their encouragement. Admission of need is not natural in our DIY society.

To take the idea of need one step further going to church requires humility because it will expose my flaws. Different than the need that we have as outlined above, going to church exposes how desperate I am for mercy. How much I need people to extend grace because I am frankly not a nice guy. I am self absorbed, quick tempered, and just as prone to hurt you as I am to bless you. But that is the irony of coming to a church where God is truly worshiped and lived. It is right at this place of ugliness that we have the best chance to actually experience what the Gospel is all about. As I receive mercy when I least deserve it from a sister or brother in Christ, I truly taste the life giving fountain of grace that flows from the Savior through His people.

So it is true, going to church will require humility. But it is in going to church that I taste and see that the Lord is good!

 

Photo by Sarah Noltner on Unsplash

in truth

Living with the Truth

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Watching the State of the Union address this week was another reminder of the political divide in our country. Whether you identified with the hopeful, tangible stories of progress that President Trump tried to emphasize or the shredding of the “pack of lies” that Speaker Pelosi attempted to give voice to; the divide is obvious. But what does the divide say about our country, or perhaps more uncomfortably yet, what does it say about you and me? 

Robert Samuelson, a columnist for Newsweek and Washington Post recently said the following about life on the campaign trail. “The chasm between stump rhetoric and governing realities will haunt whoever wins. It also defines a dilemma of democracy. People want their leaders to tell the truth, but they often don’t want to hear the truth.Genuine leaders escape this trap by persuading public opinion to acknowledge distasteful problems. But these leaders are rare. Most pursue immediate popularity over truth even if this deepens long-term public mistrust.”

There is a lot here to parse out; particularly about leadership. But what captured my attention is the idea that while we want our leaders to tell the truth, we often don’t want to hear the truth. Living in the light is not all that comfortable. The reality is, as great as we may want America to be, it is always going to be flawed, it is never going to be the utopia, Christian or otherwise, that we have burdened it to be. The reality is, that as much as we may bleed for social justice causes, humans at their best will never be the complete solution for these causes. These truths are hard to hear. So we stay in our echo chambers, celebrating the things we value and decrying what the opposition stands for.

But hearing the truth is the heart of the Gospel. As Jack Miller famously puts it, “Cheer up you are a lot worse off than you think. But cheer up again, because you are more loved and accepted in Christ than you ever dared hope.” The gospel invites us to radical truth-telling about ourselves, our world, and most importantly our God. The gospel invites us to this truth telling because the gospel can handle the truth. Yes, we are more broken that we can believe. I see this each week in confession as I think through the harsh words that I said to my wife or my kids, and realize that the harsh words are magnified because they actually comes from a selfish heart. The truth was worse than I thought. But dealing in the truth allows me to have an even greater vision of how great God’s love for me actually is. He didn’t just deal with my wayward actions, he dealt definitively with my blackened heart! This is truly great news! I love the words of the Psalmist “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!" Psalm 139:23–24. Living in the light, this is truly a heart set free. 

 

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash 

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