Missions Class

I was in a Missions Class last night at the NP, and we were learning about better understanding a specific culture quite different from the culture of us present at the class. The class has been fascinating and has stretched us as a group in many powerful ways, and some things have been put on my heart. Now most of these things are thoughts and concepts that the majority of believers have likely wrestled with before, but in this missions meeting, we were forced to full on WWF-Hulk Hogan wrestle with them. Wait, that kind of wrestling is fake, so not the best example… but I think you get my point. I’ll speak for myself in saying, I was very convicted and very challenged at a new level in regards to certain things I’ve wrestled with before.

1) How do we treat the Gospel? The Apostle Paul says this about the Gospel: “…it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes… for in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed…” (Romans 1.16-17; TNIV). So, obviously the message of the Gospel carries some serious weight. And yet, somehow it is often presented in a kitschy and corny way. Now, this may come from good intentions- for instance trying to get peoples’ attention and so forth, but there is nothing corny about which Paul says, “the righteousness of God is revealed.” It is a helpful reminder that the Gospel is powerful and doesn’t really need a dog and pony show, (sorry, but I love that expression) a bait and switch or to be used like a bad pick-up line.

2) This goes along with #1. Does everything have to be about ourselves? Evangelism is the active sharing of one’s faith with the purpose being God. But I’m going to use what I think is a new term here:
i-vangelism. i-vangelism is similar to evangelism, in many ways. It involves a person talking about her faith. It involves a person convicted about what he believes. It usually revolves around good intentions. The difference is that i-vangelism is ultimately about the person who is talking about God instead of it being truly about God. Let’s be honest, this is difficult because we are prone to make things about ourselves. It’s part of our condition, found both in our nature and nurture from childhood. But, the Gospel is not about us being heroic or slick. The Gospel is about God, and we are not to give ourselves credit for its success or discredit ourselves at apparent obstacles. God is glorified when the gospel is spoken and lived out. There are plenty of opportunities in our culture to credit ourselves and garner attention. The Gospel, however, is not that place.

3) The Gospel is not American. Certainly, I love my country and cherish my freedoms. When the US played its opening match in the World Cup, I got goose bumps from the National Anthem. But American culture and Christianity are not the same thing. When one realizes that other cultures view Christianity and American pop-culture as the same thing, one quickly gets a perspective on the difference. In sharing the gospel with people of other cultures, it is a big mistake to assume “westernization” needs to occur or is a necessary part of the process. The good news is that God loves his creation and ultimately reveals his truth in Jesus, and this stands on its own.

In reflecting on these things, I am continually humbled by a God who is greater, more loving, and beautiful than I could ever imagine. In that line of thinking, it makes it easier to look outside one’s self towards his glory.

Guiding real people to embrace a life-giving relationship with Jesus Christ