For the past 5 days, I’ve been on camp. It was the Mid-Year Conference for Mac Uni’s Christian Union. The topic was mission, and we focused on Matthew 26-28. It seems like a lot of people come away with a couple of really clear ideas that stuck in their head. My experience is the opposite: there’s far too much buzzing around my noggin to recall how it all fits together.
There are a few reasons for this: there was a lot of bible in there. It’s hard to keep track of what is where, who says what. A second factor is that we tackled things expositively as Dan and Scott walked us through Matthew, and systematically with Kamal. Each speaker had a distinctly different style of delivery.
These things accounted for, there is a massive amount of material, encouragement and rebuke to churn through and meditate upon. Partly for the sake of sharing, and partly to help myself work through this, I’m going to be whacking some reflection blogs up in the next couple of weeks. Hopefully this will also help in getting in the right mindset for the Your God mission over the next few weeks.
These could cover a lot of ground: the way that the Trinity forms an impetus for mission. Opportunities to move to New Zealand. The primary purpose of the age of the resurrection. Irony and fulfilment in Matthew’s passion narrative. The core of mission and the power of the cross. The irrationality of sin. Aggressively intolerant “tolerance”. Jesus’ role as representative head. Impassibility and suffering in the Godhead at the crucifixion.
They won’t cover that much ground. But they could.
For now, I’ll share a word of wisdom that challenged me today. I chose this top run with, as it picks up an untied thread from THIS POST a little while ago, which considers the role of joy in witness. Bear in mind that I’m tired after a long week: this won’t be my most brilliant piece of writing, and won’t be as exegetically grounded as I would prefer.
It was the last day of camp, and people are invited to reflect on camp. One of the guys who will graduate this year jumped up. He’s a pretty quiet guy: I don’t think I’d ever heard him speak before this. It was super encouraging to hear that CU had been helpful for his faith, and kudos to him for getting up there to encourage the other introverted crew. He finished on this note: that while engaging in mission can be scary, it is just as important for the shy to be involved. For my part, I would definitely lean this way. I need “me” time to recharge, and prefer my own company or that of a few friends to larger groups. Frankly, every time I’ve done something like walk-up or a beach mission walk-out it’s terrified the guts out of me. Yet I think that something that was said today is true. The introvert may feel awkward and scared in walk-up, yet they are likely to be most effective in reaching out to other introverts. On campus, God may well use people who are less bubbly and confident to reach those of similar bent.
Furthermore, our own shyness leaves room for the Spirit to do His work.
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, andnot with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:17-18, ESV)
2 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2: 1-5, ESV)
I take a while to get to know people. It can often feel like a weakness for mission. I know that it is no better or worse to be introverted or extroverted, talkative or quiet. When confronted with mission, however, it is easy to wish that you were better at cementing more friendships, faster. So it is encouraging that even what feels like a weakness is no boundary to the gospel, as God is at work.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:8-10, ESV)
In mission, God can and does use all kinds of people in all sorts of crazy ways. Each of us is given a different personality and experiences for a reason. For me, that means that in the next few weeks I will be doing walk-up and that sort of thing, as part of campus mission. I’d encourage you to do the same – this is the age of mission, and though it is scary, authority sits with Jesus.
Right at the moment, I feel as if this post should have more about the reason that people should consider mission worth facing up to the challenges. For now, though, I’m going to leave it brief. That’s the sort of thing I’ll be reflecting on over the next little while. Better to not include a bible verse for the sake of it, and provide something well-considered once I can get my mind together.
Suffice to say that God owns the world, you and me. He sets the agenda of the mission. Mission is, in fact, the defining characteristic of our age. A love for others requires us to press into the Lord and trust him, as he calls us to participate. It will be hard, but it is the proper response to the grace we have been shown in the blood of Christ.