Monday, July 03, 2006

Ultimate Realities

How do you mobilise a people into mission? In September I have a few of speaking engagements to do just that. A couple to send freshers off to University... another to prepare current students to make the most of freshers week. What do I need to teach them? I'm persuaded by John Piper's argument in his introduction to The Supremacy of God in Preaching:
"Young people today don't get fired up about denominations and agencies. They get fired up about the greatness of a global God and about the unstoppable purpose of a sovereign King.
I will talk about the vision of Christian Unions but that is not ultimate. The vision of Christian Unions is one I've given myself to serving not because Christian Unions are ultimate, but because the of global greatness of God. His fame and reputation are ultimate. The grace of God wrought into the lives of many is ultimate. Our ministry in Christian Unions is a means to an end, a means to seeing God become famous on campus, and worldwide. This must be our desire and our joy. This must occupy our affections and our actions. Piper continues:
The first great missionary said: "We have recieved grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among the nations" (Romans 1v5). Missions is for the sake of the name of God. If flows from a love for God's glory and for the honour of his reputation. It is an answer to the prayer, "Hallowed be thy name".
The motivation for missions is not us, it is his Name. It was a vision for God's reputation that enabled Paul to lay his life down. I was listening to an interview on student ministry in the USA recently.... it was bemoaning people trying to be cool to connect with people... pursuing relevance as an end in itself. At the end of the interview the challenge was made that real connection will come by telling people about the glory of God and calling them to lay their lives down for Christ. What is cool? This is:
If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? - Mark 8v34-37
A vision of God that is big enough that we will lay down our own rights and preferences, even our lives, for the sake of making Jesus Christ famous... giving up self to gain Christ and have others gain him also. Jim Elliot is a Christian Hedonists hero... look at his reflections on October 28th 1949:
Piper concludes:
So I am persuaded that the vision of a great God is the linchpin in the life of the church, both in pastoral care and missionary outreach. Our people need to hear God-entranced preaching. They need someone, at least once a week, to lift up his voice an dmagnify the supremacy of God... God himself is the necessary subject matter of our preaching... so many of [our people] are tragically starved [of that]
There is I'm sure need to teach people to articulate the gospel well, and to think hard about peoples questions etc, but above all people need to catch a vision of the glory of God. You can't skill that into people, passion for God comes through an encounter with the Word of God and the conviction of the Spirit of God. Only then are our eyes opened. Such a vision of grace and glory will offend the proud, but to those God humbles it will always be the sweetest food for the soul. He must be the content. We need BIG God theology, BIG God songs, BIG God life.... you get the idea.

No comments:

Post a Comment