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I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Convergence Christianity, Missional Church, part 2 of 4

Okay. So we have our three ways of living and being the missional church: 
1. A deep appreciation of the world in which we live
2. A deep trust in the power of forgiveness
3. A deep engagement with those not like us

A deep appreciation of the world in which we live...
You can't be the missional church is you don't appreciate the world God has created. This means we are stewards of God's creation (See my upcoming book on Prairie Table Ministries). But it also means that you respect the people, the creatures, the organisms, and ways of living that are part of this world. Although this seems easy, it is imperative that one has this deep appreciation when people live in ways that are DIFFERENT from you. The old Nietzsche quip that it is not courage to have convictions, but rather to stand an attack upon your convictions that makes for courage. To appreciate the world is to see its beauty, its power, its ambiguities, its despair, its hopes, it dreams, and everything else that we have been given.

This idea takes seriously not only what God created, but also what God does in entering into relationship with the world. God's creation is a deep seated relationship that God enters into (most famously in Jesus the Christ), and that the world is appreciated and respected by God. God does not hate what God has made, God does not despise what God has breathed into life, and God will even succumb to our world's greatest obstacle--death; in order to appreciate the world God has made. You can't have an appreciation of our world without dealing with the fact that all things die...so God dealt with it, and that appreciation of the world is still there.

A deep trust in the power of forgiveness...
We all realize things don't always go our way. We all realize there are forces and powers in the world that conspire to make us despair of our appreciation of the world in which we live. That, and some people just can't seem to get the hang of merging onto freeways....
We all know we need to forgive, but we are invited in the missional church to trust that forgiveness is enough because its power is greater that the power of sin. When we forgive we render sin null and void. As Jeremiah the Prophet once said, we "remember sin no more."

This trust is a promise, however, this is not something written in stone. That is, you have to trust in this power EVEN THOUGH you may be wrong, even though you may die because of it, even though you may look like an idiot. Promises require trust (remember: the only thing certain about a promise is that it is not here yet--if it was here it wouldn't be a promise. There's no need to promise to give somebody a $100 if you give it to them.) When we forgive we are vulnerable to a forgiveness that we TRUST will work...it is this surrendering that frees us to live in the world with a new appreciation. You can't be resurrected if you don't die...and it's tough to trust in something that you can't control, because, well...you're dead.

A deep engagement with those not like us...
Lastly, the missional church argues that we need a deep engagement with those who are not like us. Strangers--as strangers--that is, they are not "future friends" are the way we live and grow, and change in the world. Our lives are gifts, and as we engage people (and their lives are gifts too, if not to us, certainly to them) we encounter difference. But we must not seek to ameliorate that difference, or overcome that difference with abuse, or even assimilate that difference--rather, we must celebrate, cherish, and consider the effects the strangers' differences have upon us. Only by engaging that difference, not seeking to either succumb to it or dominate it, do we discover who we are, and all that goes into making me, me. So we engage the other not because we have to, but rather because as one of God's cherished creatures, when we both engage each other we learn something about ourselves...and even more importantly, about our God.

The missional church believes these three attitudes and behaviors comprise the Christian understanding of God, and what God is doing in the world. God, in Christ Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit, deeply appreciates, deeply trusts, and deeply engages...and as we trust, engage, and appreciate we too live as God would have us be.

Now...on to convergence...

May your tables be full and your conversations be true.

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