suffering – a Bosch update part 2

yesterday, we went to lunch with David Bosch’s amazing widow, Annamie.  she models what i dream my 70s will be like.  throughout the course of our conversations yesterday, i was struck by some things she shared about suffering.  for that, i will summarize her comments with a quote from her husband’s book (which i know she had influence in).

pg. 177 “suffering is not just something that has to be endured passively because of the onslaughts and oppositions of the powers of this world, but also, and perhaps primarily, as an expression of the church’ active engagement with the world for the sake of the world’s redemption (cf Beker 1984:41).  Suffering is therefore a mode of missionary involvement.”

in light of this spirit of antagonism that has been swirling around me the last several weeks, i have been faced with a healthy challenge by my good friend Arthur: “do you want the results of Jesus without the way of Jesus?”

so often i get surprised that there would be enemy attacks on my mind and heart when I move into mission.  i assume God will just block all of those things from me because i’m serving Him.  but God didn’t call anyone into cheap, easy lives.  he called us to follow Him in His ways.  early Christians were called followers of “the way”.  and that way often times led to their certain deaths.
so why do i assume i can eat from the fields without having first experienced the back breaking work of plowing the them?  the way of Jesus is a way into territory not easily handed over.  while that does not invite us to naively entering into highly dangerous places, it also doesn’t say we should sit back in the comforts of what we know either!  whenever you enter into these places of service, you are upsetting someone.  embrace it as a mark that you are part of God redeeming the world… carry the work of the cross & resurrection deep in your soul for the sake of the world’s salvation.  those things may never leave your side, but with the prayers of many, you will be reminded of the truth as you move deeper into the heart of kingdom expansion.

new language for evangelism – a Bosch update part 1

for many years of my life, i have had this nagging feeling about my “conversion experience”.  i was taught in the school of bridge diagrams, argumentative apologetics… in other words: revealing the depravity of humanity and its need for salvation lest we run head first into the gates of hell.  i don’t dare knock on that.  i met Jesus through these models.  however, i’m starting to wonder if that process has actually cheapened my walk with God.

there’s a sense that when i had my conversion experience, i was just made fine.  now i could move through life knowing my eternal destination was secured.  then one of my fellow discussion partners chimed in with this line, “the problem with Christians is that no one wants to kill us.  we fit in nice and neat into the society around us and we don’t worry too much about calling sin ‘sin’ because we’re often caught up in it ourselves!  what’s different about me than anyone else?  i still lust after consumeristic things, i still go after success at the sacrifice of my family… i’m no better, and in many ways, i’m worse than everyone else!”

a better way of understanding what is happening at this moment is that i have entered into a journey of following the WAY of God.  rather than saying “you’re a sinner going to hell” (thus scaring some into a decision, chasing others away, and isolating everyone), offering a wholistic system of life that God wants to renew in every human being.  so then every day, i’m confronted with the things in my life God wants to restore and make new.  it’s a better option for life, not a ticket out of hell!

when i experience the life of Jesus as my option, i then move into service out of gratitude for his love.

I notice this is true with kids.  when i have loved Ezra well, like right after a good afternoon of backyard soccer, i can ask him to clean up just about anything, and out of gratitude, he obeys.  he’s not obligated to obey (which we experience more often than we’d like), but he’s grateful for the love we just shared in and serves from that place.

i prefer gratitude out of love than gratitude out of guilt.  it’s more unifying and intimate with my master.