Thursday, January 24, 2013

Relevant

     I’ve resumed my course work at Liberty for another semester. I began seminary studies toward a Master of Divinity exactly three years ago and I am happily looking at only another year at a part-time pace. I switched my concentration from Pastoral Ministries to Missional Studies just last year and am now in the heart of that concentration. The class I’m currently taking is taking me into a biblical study of missions in order to develop a theology of missions. Some of my reading this week took me through Paul’s missionary journeys in the New Testament. One of my assignments asked me to discuss five characteristics of his methods in missions. I won’t bore you with my whole discussion, but I did want to share just a little of what God showed me through my studies. First of all, Paul’s ministry was one that was characterized by his sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. There were times when his own desires had to give way to the leading of God’s Spirit – from the direction of his travels to the message he was to speak (Acts 16:6, 18:9, 19:21). All ministry must be in submission to the Holy Spirit. This seems like a no-brainer thing to say, but putting that into practice and actually living a life that is led by the Spirit is not as easy as it sounds. There is first the task of learning to discern the voice of the Holy Spirit in my life. That is a commitment of time and energy to hear Him clearly; then comes the part of actually obeying. It’s been obvious that God has been leading us every step of the way as we’ve embarked on this missions journey. At the same time, each step has depended on our willingness to be obedient to Him. I pray that as difficult and even unpopular it gets, that we would be unwavering in our obedience.

     Another characteristic of Paul’s ministry was his relevance. He stated, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22). To the Gentiles, he preached the gospel in such a way that was relevant to them and able to be grasped. To the Jews, he made sure he was not a stumbling block in their eyes. In Athens, his message was wrapped in the familiar clothing of their culture. As I enter into full-time missions, I find this an extremely important piece to take with me. Christianity is not American (nor is it Puerto Rican, or Korean, or any nationality). His Kingdom is not of this earth. If I am to carry this message of Christ to another nation and culture, I cannot go in ignorance of the people to whom I am to preach. I must become “all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” Paul became culturally relevant to the people he was trying to reach. So did Jesus. Our Savior left His place in glory to become one of us, to become as we are, to live among us, then die for us and be raised that we might rise with Him and be saved.
                Lord, help me love the people of Haiti with Your love. Help me to become culturally relevant to them that I might convey Your message to them so that they understand Your love, Your character, and accept You. Help me to be sensitive to Your Spirit’s leading and not follow my own desires…

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