Tuesday, May 20, 2014

May 20, 2014 - Along the way ...

We talk a lot about "missional living" in the church today.   But what is missional living?  I believe missional living is bringing Jesus to people so that God can bring them to Christ.

This weekend I was struck by the vision for missional living as I have defined it given by the apostle Paul in his 2nd (or perhaps 3rd) letter to the church in Corinth.   2 Corinthians 4 captures the essence of true missional living by laying out the results of the reality Paul presents in chapter 3 verse 18, "And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate (reflect) the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." (NIV 2011)

(Read 2 Corinthians 4:1-18)

Twice Paul says, "we do not lose heart" (v. 1 and v. 16).  Paul will not lose heart because he knows that although the ministry has been given by God's mercy, the work still belongs to God.  God is the one who brings people to Christ, and God never fails.

In addition, Paul renounces "secret and shameful ways" does not "use deception" nor does he "distort the word of God".  On the contrary, he sets "forth the truth plainly" commending himself "to everyone's conscience in the sight of God."  In other words, Paul is Paul.   He is who he is in Christ and he makes that plain to others through the relationships he shares with them.  He is not afraid.  He does not need to resort to "bait and switch" tactics (finding ways to get people in the door so that you can hit them with the gospel).  He does not need to manipulate conversations.   He is who he is in Christ and he knows that is enough.

Finally, Paul remembers that since the work belongs to God, he may not always see the fruit of that work.  "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."  God's work is eternal, so although we may not see it today we know that God is working and what He builds will last for eternity.

So what I must keep in mind, and perhaps each of you as well, is that missional living is about becoming more and more like Jesus by the Holy Spirit's power.   If we focus on what God is doing in us; how He is forming our character to be more like Jesus, and shaping us to share His heart; then as we interact naturally with the people around us (our family, friends, and neighbors) we will bring Jesus to them.  And as we bring Jesus to people, we trust God will bring them to Christ.

These are just some preliminary thoughts about 2 Corinthians 4.   If you have something you would like to add, please feel free to share your own thoughts as we journey together along the way ...

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