Friday, February 15, 2008

Destination: Jesusified

Meditations on 2 Corinthians 3v18.
We’re doing mission but how does that work out? Are we just mission machines? Should you just be doing evangelism 24 hours a day… doesn’t seem to work that way does it! For a start you have a course to study… and God has made you to need to spend at least one third of your life asleep. That’s very inconvenient if you’re going to be an evangelism machine because that’s a lot of life apparently wasted. Lots of lost mission time. Thing is, you’re not an evangelism machine. You’re a human being. An image bearer of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

1. Image-bearers
You and I are made in the image of God. And whilst that image has been badly marred by sin we’ve seen that we’re being transformed by the Spirit as we see Jesus in scripture back into that image. One glory-degree at a time. Our transformation and our mission have that as a destination.

a) People in relationship
Being image bearers means we are people in relationship. God is Father , Son and Holy Spirit loving one another from eternity past and forever. Three persons in loving relationship. And so too we’re defined not first by what we do but by our relationships. I’m a son of God in Christ. I’m a son of my parents. I’m a husband. All of that way before you get to what I do.

Relationships matter. The first need you had at University was for new friends. We need friends. Not firstly so we can do evangelism. But because we’re human. And you needed food – and we’ll get to that. Relationships matter, that’s why Christian Unions exist as missional communities rather than just operating with solo missionaries. Maybe more impact could be made short term that way, but without relationship something distinctively Christian is lost. We relate together and that matters. We’re relational in mission. We’re not reaching projects but people.

Is your CU the kind of community where image-bearing humanity is evident? Are people welcoming? Do we love to build friendships? Do we have a deep interest in one another?

b) People living life
Not only do relationships matter but life matters to us. The first image bearers living in God’s garden were involved in enjoying arts and sciences. Writing poetry. Naming and classifying God’s creatures. Ordering the creation. Loving one another. Eating God’s good gifts of food with thanksgiving. Christians above all other people should enjoy life. We know what it’s for. We can see all the good things God has made and eat and drink with thanksgiving. We know that the body is good. Jesus has one – and is physically resurrected. Our future is physical in God’s new creation.

God created life and stakes his claim on it – your sleeping and your waking. Your work. Your relaxation. Your relationships. Your pleasures. We can enjoy eating together. We can enjoy exploring the world. We can enjoy studying the world. We can have an interest in politics and history. We can enjoy arts and literature and music and sports. We can enjoy relationships. All of them as God’s gifts to us. Subject to abuse, but also available for right use.

Is your CU one in which Christians enjoy life? Or are they/you living a one dimensional life – where God is only interested in you doing evangelism and so that’s all you try to do? Be human! Enjoy it.

2. By the gospel
How is the image renewed in us? By the gospel – as we see and savour Jesus Christ in his word! The Spirit transforms us one glory-degree at a time. Making us more sonlike, more Jesusified.

a) Different but united
That doesn’t make us clones of Jesus – we’re different, made with different personalities and passions. Different stories and different ambitions. And inevitably with different theological nuances and stylistic preferences.

Yet – because each of us set the eyes of our hearts on the gospel of Jesus we can stand together. The things that unite us are articulated in our doctrinal basis of fellowship – which just means these are the teachings about Jesus that hold us together, drive us to worship and evangelism and delight our hearts.

We can even celebrate the differences – we don’t have to pretend they don’t exist. Within the South West team there are a range of different personalities, theological positions, academic abilities, long term ambitions, nationalities. None of those divide us because the gospel of Jesus is renewing God’s image in us – calling us to be a people together in relationship, a people who together can enjoy life, a people who stand together because we share a passion for the gospel.

See also: THEOLOGY OF EVERYTHING!... Dan Hames "You’ve started to see that the gospel and your relationship with God must have some sort of effect on the way you look at your whole life. Surely the good news about being brought into communion with the Lord of the universe means that you see reality in a new and improved way!"

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