Have you ever felt like a salmon?  Weird I know, but this quote did just that for me:

“[The powers Jesus came to free us from] come in many forms, including…the American enterprise and its demands for individual self-fulfillment and consumer preference.  Jesus confronts and conquers the powers and the laws by which they wield power: he refuses to play by their rules and masters them rather than being mastered by them.  These fallen powers have lost their enslaving grip on people because of the new world order that Jesus has inaugurated in his death and resurrection” (Metzger, 70).

Its like Metzger just rolled back the  curtain on both American culture and the startling holism of the atonement.  Essentially, the point that is being made is that Jesus death on the cross did not just pay for my sins and change my legal standing before God, it also secures and declares the victory of God over everything–whether it is ideas, institutions, fallen powers, etc.  As Metzger points out, Jesus makes us free, not just from sin and death, but even from the brokenness of a fallen system like America’s current consumerist mentality.  Jesus has freed me from lying and lust, but he has also freed me from the American dream, from thinking of me first, from fighting to retain my upward mobility, and from becoming an upper-middle class family with a white picket fence, two point five kids and a gold fish.

Don’t get me wrong–I am not saying these things are inherently evil.  What I am saying, is that when Kate, Jude and I step on a plane in a couple of weeks, we will doing so in the full freedom of Christ.  What a refreshingly large vision of Christ and his work!  What a worthy revisioning of the reality Christ has made possible to those who love him!

Maybe this is just another step that God is bringing us through to help us prepare to unplug from American culture.  Maybe I will eat these words later on when we have spent some time getting aquainted with the Dutch dream.  Either way, I can only imagine that I have a lot more to learn about being a citizen whose allegience lies with the King who will return at the end of all things.


The Mission of Missions

August 30, 2008

While perusing the pages of “Consuming Jesus, which my very perceptive wife gave me for my birthday, I ran across a Chinese poem that I see as summarizing our mission in the Netherlands:

Go to the people

Live among them

Learn from them

Love them

Start with what they know

Build on what they have:

But of the

best leaders

When their task is done

The people will remark

“We have done it ourselves.”

While in Slovenia three summers ago Kate and I were heavily impacted by the ministry of Josiah Venture in the capitol city of Ljubljana.  With a staff of around 6-8 intent on reaching students and thousands of them in the city, we were surprised to find the staff reluctant to “get results”–at least, they are reluctant to get results on their own.

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As I see it, missions is not about getting out there and saving souls.  Let me clarify, before the missions police show up at my door: missions is not only concerned with the saving of souls.  Missions has also to do with the growth and maturation of the Church on a global level.  It is not about sending home high stats–that is missions at its shallowest.  In my opinion, approaching missions in a deep way requires that we do it patiently and in a way which leads the national (or local) church deeper in to ministry rather than supplanting it.

Perhaps, thinking back over our poem, the only thing that remains would be to nuance the final phrase, to make sure the reader leaves room for God in the concluding “We have done it ourselves.”  Whew!  Gives me goosebumps!

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