Thursday, February 9, 2012

I Sing the Mighty Power...

These past couple of days I've become a slightly addicted to re-mixed Hymns. Mars Hill Church has a pretty awesome album of old-school hymns played to more modern music. The one I've been playing on repeat lately is "I Sing the Mighty Power of God". God's power is completely and utterly incomprehensible. As one of my professors stated the other day, the Bible says that God spoke the world into existence but who can actually describe what this means? Who can describe this process? I don't know about you but I draw a giant "?"

Yet we can see this power all the time. Last night after small group, one of the young men said to me: "I take it no one here plays X-Box..." which led me to promptly bust out laughing. If you don't know our group, we're anything but a bunch of clones. We come from VERY different backgrounds, cultures, cities, and experiences. But at the same point, we're all focused around seeing the Glory of God and proclaiming his glory. This unity around the Mission of God and the Glory of God overcomes all other differences. We don't lose our diversity, yet we still gain unity. Suffice it to say: yes some of us do play X-Box.

And I guess this is the difference between being "religious" and "Christian" (although Christianity is a religion/worldview). As we proclaim the glory of Christ and see people reconciled to Christ, I don't want them to look like Daniel, I want them to look like Christ. Hopefully, they'll pick up some of my more honorable habits and then throw away those that aren't so hot. As followers of the risen Christ we have been given the opportunity to behold the amazing, transformative power of God. We who were once dead, have been raised and united to life with Christ.

So what is the Mighty Power of God? And why are we so hesitant to proclaim it? Why is it so easy to compartmentalize our walk, hide our identity, and allow Christianity to become a part of our lives instead of Christ being our life? If we've been raised from death (in ourselves/Adam) to life (in Him), how can we cut him out?

To be honest, I think we so often overlook how the gospel is working and doubt the true power of God. In the Old Testament, God commanded Israel to celebrate the year of Jubilee every seven years. This means that they were to stop working, free all slaves, and party in praise of him for an entire year. An entire year of not working... scary thought? But the idea was to trust in the power of God and rely on Him to provide. Even in war times, he promised to literally fight their battles (at one point slaying the entire Assyrian army with an angel and no Israelite soldiers). In response to their faith, he promised to provide. And he does this for us all the time! He gives us victory over sin, saves our friends and family members, increases our knowledge and love for Him... etc.

Ultimate demonstration of God's power
This same power of God from this same God is available to believers. I'm not saying sit down and "have faith" that God will give you a winning lotto ticket. No, but trust that in proclaiming his Mighty Power, in opening up every area of your life to Christ, and in pursuing His purposes, His power will be demonstrated. And then look for it to happen! And then when it happens, praise and rejoice for it (i.e. don't overlook it). As family members, friends, co-workers come to know of the Father, as prayers are answered, as you grow in Christ and become more like him, sing the Mighty Power of God who made the mountains rise, who spread the flowing seas abroad and built the lofty skies. Sing the goodness of the Lord, who filled the earth with food, who formed the creatures through the Word, and then pronounced them good.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Why Be Missional?

Someone asked me the other day why we (our church) was trying to be missional? Why weren't we just sitting back and basking in our knowledge of God? Why go out and seek the lost? Being missional is uncomfortable and evangelism isn't easy, why should we go out and do it? To be honest, the answer is simple: We (the universal church) should be missional because God is missional! If we're to reflect the nature of the God we worship we have to reflect his character and Yahweh is a missional God.

Plant seeds for the Gospel
But where do we see this is scripture? I could easily point to the person and work of Jesus Christ who descended into Earth to seek and save the lost. But that would be too easy. I could point to the Great Commission and Jesus' command to preach to all nations. I could talk about the Doctrine's of Grace, Hell, Salvation, and God's wrath/love... Instead, we'll focus on the beginning and start in Genesis.

In Genesis 1, God repeatedly creates spaces (heavens, earth, and the seas) and then fills them with things. After creating each space and filling it, he declares that not it is "good" (tov in the Hebrew). In Genesis 1:27, when he has finished creation with the formation of Man in his own likeness and image, he describes it as exceedingly "tov". God also tells each species to "be fruitful and multiply" thereby filling the earth with even more "tov" things that reflect God's goodness, character, and glory. Each space is filled with good things that point to and reflect the character and nature of the only living God. These things are good, they are beautiful, and their reflection of God's goodness is an act of worship.

Then Genesis 3 happens. Eve looks ate the fruit of the tree and, after listening to the serpent, decides that it is "tov"/good. Instead of listening and trusting in the Word of God, she tries to redefine what is good and evil. Adam follows suit and sin enters the world through him and now, instead of the earth being filled with good things, the earth is filled with evil (the opposite of the original design). All of the descendants of Adam, instead of filling the earth with the image of God are now filling the earth with the image of someone whose very nature rebels against God.

Thousands of years later, God sends his Son to seek and save the lost. In dying on the Cross, he takes on the evil of the world and gives, to those who believe in him, the free gift of righteousness. Part of me supposes that if the New Testament were written in Hebrew, it would state that we have received the "tov" that comes by faith in Christ (Philippians 3:9). Christ redeemed us, made us new, and by His grace we are made good in the sight of God.

So how does this tie into the character of God? How does this relate to the things of God and missions? In redemption, God is once again filling the earth with things that are "tov"/good. And it isn't a "tov" that we've received from our own actions but one that comes directly from Christ and faith in his name. In sharing the gospel, in redeeming the lost, in proclaiming the glory of God, in enduring persecutions for the sake of the gospel, in standing strong for the truth of God, we get the chance to demonstrate to the world that this is the God we serve! We serve a God who chases after lost people. We serve a God who crossed the infinite gap between heaven and earth so that we could be reconciled to Him. We share the gospel because it fills the earth with the righteousness of God. We go on missions because there are places in this world that do not know of the grace of Christ. If we're going to emulate the person of Christ we must be about his business. We can't ignore this aspect of his character. In short, we're missional because the God we serve is missional.

God chose to use us to proclaim his glory to those who don't know Him, both near and far. To quote David Platt: "We are plan A, and there is no plan B..."