Thursday, November 13, 2008
The World God Has Opened Up
I began reading a book the other day which asked a simple but penetrating question: “How do we see the world immediately around us? Do we see it as a place of mission which God is already opening up for us or do we see it as a place of immense threat – as the enemy to be overcome?” (Robinson & Smith, Invading Secular Space, 34). As in many areas of life this question brings out our perspective on sharing Christ into the forefront.
Jesus told his disciples to open their eyes (wake up) and see the fields that were ripe for harvest (John 4:35). Instead of hesitating to start spiritual conversations, or to take risks to enter into friendships, to speak about God, to speak of what God is doing, or of the people of God, or of activities concerning God in which we’re involved, why not open our mouths and let the words fall where they may. If it is true that God opened the heart of Lydia so she would believe (Acts 16:14), that those who were appointed to eternal life came to faith (Acts 13:48), that God added daily to the church those who were to be saved (Acts 2:47), if Paul knew that God through the grace of prayer would lead him to share (explain) with boldness the gospel (Eph. 6:19), why then are we not more bold, more open, more risk-taking, more believing, more willing to simply trust, obey and follow the path set before us?
Think with me. Is not society yearning for something to believe in? (In spite of the attacks from the New Atheism.) Are not many of the shelves at Barnes & Nobles filled with books on spirituality? Has not the skeptic, atheist world of modernity been “swallowed” up by the belief in one, belief in all, belief in anything, something, world of Postmodernity? Are not college and university Religion 101 and Philosophy 101 classes full with students searching, asking, questioning, rejecting, seeking, longing?
So, what’s the problem? Could it be we think the world is shut up in unbelief? That people will not respond to our spiritual probing? Is it fear? Could it be that we believe that the enemy can keep shut the hearts of those whose heart God wants to open? Furthermore, do we ignore that people are longing for acceptance and for community, or as some would say, for the opportunity “to belong before” they “believe”?
So, again, what’s the problem? I think that our perspective on spiritual reality is off track. Jesus died to bring sinners into a right relationship with God and to grant them eternal life. According to the verses quoted above God is actively calling people to himself (see John 6:65). If this is true, then what are needed are believers who understand and embrace their DNA, uh, that is, their mDNA, or their missionary DNA (core purpose, task). The church, if it is anything, must be a missionary church, or missional (if you want to be edgy) in its perspective on people. It must be willing to seek the lost (sorry if you don’t like the word), invade secular space, get in the mire, and enter darkness so that the light of the gospel has an opportunity to beam into the lostness.
God has gone before us. He doesn’t want anyone to perish, but desires that all come to salvation, deliverance, spiritual health, fullness of life. If this is what he wants, then this means that he is going ahead of us (you) preparing the hearts of your friends, family members, neighbors, co-workers, fellow students, enemies, skeptics, atheists, deists, spiritualists, cultural opposites, etc. The final question is: will we believe the empty threat of the enemy, or will we believe the purposes of God to involve us in missions? Will we obey, enter, and stand in awe of the world God has opened up for us?
Por Su Gracia y Poder