Something I wish I'd read a week ago . . .

Look, I'm cramming. I'll admit that. But in the process of trying to consume the last of my massive stack of Lausanne Congress advance papers, I came across something that I wish I had read at least a week ago.  That is, before entering into yet another brain-churning and heart-rending scuffle on the issue of contextualization. I'm going to refrain from commenting much further. Let me simply refer you to something surprising and great and then provide an extended quotation from it.

So, I encourage the planet earth to read Michael Herbst's article, "Witnessing to Christ in a Secular Culture." In it, he skillfully writes about the contemporary religious (or, that is non-religious) scene of especially eastern Germany.  He briefly describes the background and towards the end suggests some direction for a missional future.  But it is the meat in the middle that was so very compelling to me.  Why? Because I have said it again and again (although I'm sure that Herbst said it long before me). Honestly though, I am always so deeply encouraged to find another person who is hearing God say the same thing.  So, here's the quotation, speaking of the Lord Jesus' model of incarnational, boundary-crossing, contextual mission, Herbst begins to speak of Paul:

"This can be seen, for example in the Apostle Paul.  He is infected by the vision of Jesus, and is ready to put his own good completely on hold for the task of reaching people with the message of the gospel.  He does not want to ask any longer: What is dear to me, what is my tradition of living in the community of faith, what is my style of worshiping God? He wants to do everything that connects people to the gospel, and he wants to leave everything that could keep them away from the gospel, as long as it is really the message of Christ.  He wants to become all things to all people so that by all possible means he might save some (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)."

And a bit more:

"So I can only participate in the gospel when I join in with its dynamic movement towards people who have never heard of Jesus and still live their dismal lives without connection to him.  If I refuse to join in with this inclusive effort of the gospel, then I exclude myself from it.  A church should be a community on the move, crossing boundaries and making inclusion possible.  In theological language, I could say it like this: There is no mission without incarnation."

And then I wrote in the margin of my paper a big, all caps, 6-times underlined -- YES!!!

Peace to you this day.

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