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Everybody Can Play…Part 2

disciple greekIn the previous post, I mentioned agency. We are “agents” of Christ. This is a game changer for most of us.

Most of our activity and focus orbits around church. Moreover, that focus is usually limited to one day…Sunday. Put that together with the fact that,for most of us, church on Sunday only lasts an hour or two. Now we have a problem. How does “agency for Christ” work in such a limited space and time?

The short answer is, it doesn’t. The long answer requires a bit of thought, some new habits, and a massive paradigm shift. Brad Brisco, a missional writer and leader stated recently:

“We often wrongly assume that the primary activity of God is in the church. Instead, the primary activity of God is in the world, and the church is an instrument created by God to be sent into the world to participate in what he is already doing. This will change almost everything we think and do as the church.”

(Follow Brad Brisco on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/bbrisco/posts/10151600862827006)

Agency for Christ is going to have to involve turning the average “Christian life” inside out. Living out our faith and serving Christ does not involve “church as we know it.” Agency takes us where we are needed: in our neighborhoods, our jobs, our community activities and in “the world.” “Church as we know it” becomes a way station where we can seek some refreshment and reconnect with our community (of agents), take care of each other and gear up for the greater mission. .  As agents, churches don’t define us, they become a support resource for a much larger purpose which is our mission (ministry) of reconciliation. This can be a little scary, but I have found it to be liberating and highly fulfilling.

To find out more than this blog can ever tell you about the nitty gritty details of this “life of agency for Christ” check out this book and all the related web resources for it.

The book title is: Right Here, Right Now by Lance Ford and Alan Hirsh (mostly Lance. Sorry, Al). Go to the link below.

/http://www.righthererightnowbook.com/

 

 

 

 

“Missional” in Seven Videos

I have been trying to explain the values and practices of what has come to be known as the Missional Movement for years. Even to give the reader an overview of this would takVerge Videose pages and pages of blog space and a great deal of time.

What I would like to do is give you a condensed video presentation which explains this movement, and the values that motivate and inform ordinarypractice.com

I’m putting up a collection of seven videos by Alan Hirsch, an author and speaker on this topic. Each of these videos cover an aspect of what the missional movement is trying to restore and establish in the church today.

Perhaps you will find it useful.

Enjoy.

Statements of Faith

Recently, one of my students, a professed Christian, told me:

“I’m a Christian. I believe what they tell me.”

This was his “statement of faith.” In essence, he was saying, “I am a Christian, but the my leaders define what that is, so I can’t really say.” It was a remarkable statement, and completely meaningless.

After three straight days of interaction, I knew him well enough. His profession had no meaning because his words and actions did not square with it. Professions don’t define us, actions do.

I think that the only valid statement of faith is words and deeds caused by that faith. Ticking off a list of theological propositions which do not fuel your actions or interests is totally irrelevant. Ticking off a list which you contradict in life and action is even worse.

It’s not what you profess. It’s what you produce.

The Apostle John puts it simply in his first letter:

And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.
Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,
but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him:
whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.  1Jn 2:3-6

I think that most of us Christians forget that we are not in this for ourselves. We are followers of Christ. We do as He does. We say as He says. We are ourselves, but we do not represent ourselves.

We are in transition. We are being transformed. The process is “walking as He walked.” This biblical metaphor of “walking” means you practice what He did and live like Him. You can see from what John says above, it’s not optional. You either do it, or you are a fake.

There is no need for shame, but if you profess “Christianity” and find it difficult to explain you actions, you need to learn how to walk.

Getting Smart with God

The Three Virtues

The Bible speaks a great deal about wisdom. Understanding and knowledge. I wonder if the reason may have something to do, not only with living well, but preventing trouble.

The Three Virtues (covered in the wisdom books of the Bible)

  • Wisdom: A skillful knack. The ability to take what you know and what you understand and make things in life work for you.
  • Knowledge: The facts. All the meaningful information.
  • Understanding: The ability to put all the facts (knowledge) into context so that they are useful and relevant.

Consider the polar opposites

  • Ignorance, misconception (also expressed as being gullible or naïve).
  • Foolishness: opposite of wisdom (stupidity)
  • Confusion: opposite of understanding (often expressed as error).

In proverbs, much of the teaching about wisdom understanding and knowledge, is compared with their opposites: Ignorance, foolishness and confusion. It occurs to me that the antithesis of these three virtues are the engines of oppression. The absence of these three virtues is a vacuum which allows a lot of suffering.

In Proverbs 8 wisdom is portrayed as a lady calling out to all humanity (Children of men) in verse 4. The real telling portion of this is down around the end of the chapter. Wisdom is characterized as a fundamental force of the universe and the very reason it is established and why it works. It is the attribute that made all the good that we know possible. But, as I said before, it’s absence bears horrible consequences. The absence of these three virtues is not merely unfortunate or even tolerable. It is toxic and dangerous.

Wisdom concludes her speech with this thought:

and now, oh sons, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wide, and do not neglect it. Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord, but he who fails to find me injures himself; all who hate me favor death.

Without wisdom things tend to fall apart. If you live this way your affairs tend to self destruct. This is not a moral statement. This is a simple observation of the way things work in life.

Does this seem unreasonable? It is not a moral statement but a statement about the way things work. Think about it: what does ignorance, foolishness and confusion generally lead to? Living like this does not lead to a rousing good time and laughs for everyone. It leads to misery and self destruction. The lack of wisdom, understanding and knowledge is destructive and dangerous. It’s a risk that nobody needs to take. But wait, it gets worse.

In the corporate community sense, the lack of the three virtues opens the door for exploitation, abuse and perpetual misery. Oppressors love ignorance. It makes it easy for them to hide themselves and their intentions. It even allows them to make supporters out of their victims! Without these three virtues it’s easy to be trapped by any number of scams.

Recent history of ignorant group-think really illustrates this fact. The recent financial collapse was made possible by ignorance and confusion. Investment bankers created bad investments which were designed to fail and then conspired to profit from their failure, they made hundreds of millions, leaving the rest of us with nothing but losses, destroyed banks and expensive bailouts. Why? Because they took advantage of people who did not have wisdom, knowledge and understanding of the markets and investments.

A Christ follower does not need to live like this. Part of your transformation involves your mind. We get to grow smarter in all affairs of life as we grow in Christ. In Romans 12, Paul talks about being “transformed, by the renewing of your mind.” Just as there is not longer any reason to wallow in sin, there is no reason to wallow in ignorance, confusion and foolishness.

Wisdom, knowledge and understanding are not only notable virtues, they are a means of self defense in a spoiled and dysfunctional world. Without them, you are an easy mark in a fallen culture. Fortunately for us, scripture provides a promise and a truckload of easy-to-study wisdom literature.

The Promise:

Jas 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

The Truckload:

  • Proverbs
  • Ecclesiastes
  • Portions of the Psalms

There are hundreds of one-verse-wonders covering matters ranging from finance, to relationships, even to office politics. All practical advice stated plainly.

Stay tuned. We’re going to unpack this truckload in the next post.