THE NEXT THREE MONTHS
We wither away without vision. A picture of what the future could be like points the way & fuels us in the present. So, let’s again consider the life changing gravity of what we are doing here. Grace, mission and diversity will impact and shape everything we do. It will also explain some of the decisions we make over the next three months. Please do consider again consider these emphases and how they impact on your life and ministry.
The Sacha Baron Cohen’s character, Borat has a prank where he goes to a wealthy conservative American family for supper. At the dinner table he excuses himself to go the toilet. On arrival back at the table he plonks down a brown paper bag that’s filled with you know what. There’s complete mayhem at the table as the family attempts to be tempered because of the cultural difference and confusion. Borat just makes it worse by acting in ignorance as he waves the bag everywhere! Speaking of his former ways in Judaism Paul says “its refuse” in comparison to Christ (Philippians 3.8). That word literally means poo. Not prioritizing the grace of God is pulling a Borat! Hosting a life group and gathering friends around smelly stuff. Sharing with great passion about how great your poo is and how everyone needs it! It’s only the gospel of grace that brings glory to Jesus and actually changes people. Frustration with sin around us can tempt us into poo slinging. But Paul warns us that “do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch! Such regulations have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence” (Colossians 2.21-23). In the final analysis we know that we face constant temptation to fall “away from grace” (Galatians 5.4). We want to maintain a grace focus throughout this year because our hearts constantly seek out other ways apart from the finished work of Christ to prove that we’re not that bad.
Love is the heart grace and it’s also the reason for our mission. The mission of God to rescue us from our sin & have a relationship with us runs throughout the entire biblical narrative - the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2), the calling of Abraham and the formation of Israel through whom a blessing would be extended to the world (Genesis 12.1-3), the vision of the prophets of a time when the Gentiles would be included in the people of God (Isaiah 49.6) and ultimately the blood stained cross of Jesus Christ which shouts with the passion of God for people who hate Him. The final and great commission to the church is to go and make disciples (Mathew 28.16). In the Acts of the Apostles we see the birth of the church as the Holy Spirit is poured out in great power to add super fuel to ordinary people for the mission. Therefore this must be a priority in our thinking and planning. Often we become inward focused and community centred. Mission informs everything. It will impact on who we are friends with, how we behave, what our student’s calendar should look like, how we lead life group, how we express our Christian faith, etc. What is certain is that there is nothing more exciting than the adventure that God has for each one of us. Not only is this exciting but to live as if hell is not real and people we know are not heading there would be foolishness. Let’s give ourselves wholly to the mission of God!
Diversity is the logical outworking of a grace community on mission. When Paul concludes his epistle to the Romans he concludes by quoting a barrage of Old Testament prophecies pointing them to the prophetic vision of a community made up of all people under the lordship of Jesus Christ (Romans 15.9-12). The church in Rome struggled with diversity. The message of grace will draw all kinds of people. So it’s helpful to know that its God’s intention that we live as “one new person” in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2.15). The heavenly vision of John on Patmos is that of “every nation, tribe, people and language” will worship Jesus (Revelation 7.9). There is great beauty in difference but often great irritation too. This is why Paul calls us to not only “accept one another…as Christ accepted you” (Romans 15.7) but to become like he was “strong” in his faith (Romans 15.1). The weak in faith stumble over differences and are not able to make sacrifices to accept and welcome others. Not so with the strong. The strong are mature in faith. If we are able to truly unite in friendship we will have South Africa’s attention. We will do what politicians fail to do. What the reformation was to Martin Luther, racial unity is to us. If we succeed we will not only sever the roots of racism and classism we will silence the demons behind them (Ephesians 3.10).
There will be many more posts expanding these emphases and rooting them in practical application. But for now let’s together chase after God’s grace and bring many along with us!
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