Tuesday, January 13, 2015

And if we do believe...

I started this post yesterday after publishing "Do We Believe." I'll try to put part of it up online now (as part of my preparation for next Sunday) and then go on to other things. These reflections connect with the preaching and teaching series that we're sharing entitled "The Dangerous Kind."

Some of the thoughts I will express below have been roiling in me for quite some time but I'm don't think I've shared them in public like this. It's when I saw some of these things reflected in Graeme Seller's book The Dangerous Kind that I got interested in this book in the first place.

Here are the thoughts:

In a section called "A Dangerous Kindness to the Forgotten Ones" Graeme writes:
Jesus calls us to something higher... better... wilder... than our [normal] concept of Christian belief and service. ... The first thing he mentions [as he unveils] his life's purpose [in Luke 4:18-19] is ministry to the poor, to those outsiders who stand almost no chance in this life of ever becoming insiders. It is to the inconsolably forgotten that Jesus directs the first declarative promise of his explosive, life-changing kingdom agenda. The poor are the first on the list and the first in line, and we would do well to give careful attention to this reality.
He then goes on, either in the book or in other teachings that I've heard, to say that it's in compassionate, bold ministry with the forgotten ones that we are truly "dangerous" against the schemes of the enemy and advance the Kingdom of God. In a presentation that he made at the Alliance of Renewal Churches gathering in 2012, Graeme says that those who have been rescued by God from the deepest darkness are the strongest and most fearless when they find they have a friend in Jesus who will stand by them no matter what. We'll develop this further as the week goes on.

But let me say this for now: If we do believe there is a war going on (see previous post), and if we believe we are soldiers in that war, there will be differences between the way we live and the way others live, including in this aspect of our relationships with those who many would like to ignore.

Some of those differences in the ways we live will set us apart even from other Christian believers! Yes! It's true! Because some Christians have limited ideas of what "spiritual warfare" is, and others don't believe in it at all. 
  1. Christians who have a limited picture of spiritual warfare tend to see the battle either in terms of
    (a) political activity, either by involvement in the culture war to "bring the nation back to God," or, on the left, working for programs and policies that benefit the poor, the environment etc.
    (b) personal salvation (saving people's future for heaven when they die by getting them baptized or making a decision for Christ)
    (c) individual holiness (tamping down sinful behaviors, habits and attitudes, raising up godly ones), which may involve literal demonic oppression.
  2. Christian believers who do not believe they are warriors in a spiritual conflict may have never learned about this part of the Christian life. They may be living with what they think is
    (a) a deep sense of God's grace and peace (all is well, not only with my soul, but with the world as a whole) or
    (b) God's sovereignty (God's in control, there's nothing I can do except take care of my own business so as not to be a burden on others).
    Sadly, any teachings that say "there's nothing we can do" do not line up with the Bible's teachings about Christian activity. A quick look at the book of James will show that is true.
I am thankful for the perspective that Graeme Sellers shares in regard to ministry to the poor and forgotten ones (in the third chapter of his book and in other places).

Staying in relationship with broken ones is one of the most powerful things we can do in spiritual warfare. And that's not a perspective I've seen very often among believers.

As we do stay connected with them as much as they allow us to do so, prayer and practical ministry can make a big difference in their lives, and in the lives of those they touch. That's a very important part of what it means to be "the dangerous kind," advancing the cause of Christ in the world.

More later.


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