Theology on the Run

Theology on the Run

I often think back to the New Testament church with thoughts of care, wonder, and amazement. What must it have been like in those first few decades with Jesus gone? How long was it before they even called themselves “the church” and what did daily life look like? I try and answer these questions as I read through the New Testament, but the reality is that we only know what we can read in the text. So, as I was pondering questions like these and wondering what else I would have liked to have seen in the text, I heard someone make a statement about the theology of the New Testament. He said, “The theology of the New Testament can be called a ‘Theology on the Run’. They were figuring things out as they went, helping people as they learned what they were doing.”
And honestly, has that concept changed? For anyone who has tried to lead or participate in ministry, you know that it’s messy and that you are trying to figure things out along the way. You go into things with plans, but those often get tossed out the window as you are presented with a new problem and a new solution to find. Half of ministry is trying to figure out what to do while you are already doing the other half of ministry – loving on people.
But, somewhere along the way, the church started to think that it had “arrived”. We started caring less about people who don’t know Jesus and caring more about our parking spot at church. We started giving less attention to the missions work, because we recently shared a missionary’s blog post. At some point, our focus became inward, we stopped running, and started sitting in comfortable chairs. Beloved, we may have lost sight of the true vision of the church: to be “witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) With that vision comes the great responsibility to dive right into the middle of sharing the Gospel message of the risen Savior, Jesus.
That may be scary and that may be uncomfortable, but if we have that mindset, then we probably forgot the first half of the verse I just mentioned. Jesus said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.” We have been EMPOWERED to spread the church to the ends of the earth – yes even in your neighborhood. I’m not at all disputing whether you have been empowered, but I am saying that you haven’t yet turned on the light switch. PG&E has been turned on, but we are content with using candles in the dark.
Instead of hunkering down in fear, let us boldly reach beyond our comfort zone and reconnect with the vision of the church. You may have to figure things out on the run. You may also receive scorn and persecution, but I guarantee that you will be empowered by the strongest power that man has ever known. This week, I encourage you to think about someone to whom you can share the message of Jesus. And then, after you have thought and prayed about it, I encourage you to actually share the message of Jesus with them. Take a risk to see how God will help you to figure things out on the run.

I’m ready for a vacation…from life!

“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.” 1 Peter 2: 12

Have you ever just been tired of life? With summer upon us, you may be thinking, “It’s time for vacation! I can’t wait to leave town.” In fact, you may even be thinking, “I’m ready for a vacation from life!” We all, at some point or another, get burned out and find that we just need a break. In fact, breaks are not bad things. God gave us the Sabbath for a reason; and then, He gave us the Sabbath year and Jubilee! He gave us these things, because He knew that we would grow tired in our struggle with life.

When Peter writes to encourage the exilic Jewish Christians, I think he had some notion of what it meant to want to escape life. He was the one that had walked with Jesus for 3 intimate years of ministry and then denied him at the end of it. He was the one on fire for the Messiah, zealously defending his every move, but was no where to be found when things got rough. And, he was just one of many who would eventually find that living for Christ would lead to his death.

Peter writes to encourage oppressed Christians who are trying to fly under the radar of Rome’s military. He writes to encourage them: in the midst of your suffering, let people see God through your actions! Life has been hard and may even get harder, but don’t give up in the midst of your weariness. You are here to glorify God with your life, so allow others to see Him in you.

So with school out, vacation coming up, and you thinking about escaping town, remember that you don’t get to take a vacation from life. Take time to rest and rejuvenate. Take time with family and friends. Remind your children of their importance in your life. And, remember that even the unbelievers are curious about how you will face the next day.

Live such a good life, that although someone may not know Christ, they will see him shining through your daily actions and words and decide that God should be praised because of you.

Mike Row, Dirty Jobs, and God

Mike Row, Creator of Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs

I saw a recent quote from Mike Rowe (creator of Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs) that spoke so clearly to our issue of motivation in America: “Stop looking for the ‘right’ career and start looking for a job. Any job. Forget about what you like. Focus on what’s available. Get yourself hired. Show up early. Stay late. Volunteer for the scut work. Become indispensable.” What struck me about this is the idea that many Americans are waiting for the perfect job – the perfect life, the perfect car, the perfect everything – without making any effort at a job they can do “right now.” The waiting mentality defines us and stops us from reaching our true and full potential as humans, let alone Christians.

I think back to the Exodus story and wonder if Moses ever thought that he would be the leader of millions of Jews. He complained to Yahweh and said, “O my Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor even now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” In our contemporary setting, I imagine that coming out as, “God, I can’t do this job, because it’s not the right fit for me. I’m not sure that I am capable of accomplishing what You’ve asked of me, so would You provide something a little easier?” Moses even asked Yahweh to send someone else, but received anger instead. God was not content with Moses to sit on the sidelines. Instead, pushed Moses out of the nest and used him to accomplish one of the greatest tasks in Israelite history!

Yet another man who had great potential was Jeremiah the prophet. Many people quote Jeremiah 29:11 as their life verse, but we are quick to forget that Jeremiah was timid and scared. When Yahweh called him, Jeremiah’s response was, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” I can just imagine God’s response: “AAAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHH!! C’mon Shelly! Stop being a sissy lala!” One would think that if the God of this universe was calling you to do something, He would also equip you with the skills to do it. But, over and over the biblical texts express our human fears before the calling of our God.

We are afraid to move forward. We become stuck in the rut of our current life and forget that an all-powerful God is there to guide us through life. The God that revealed Himself as, “I will be what I will be,” is able to sustain us, provide for us, and do anything necessary to see us succeed. So, what is the missing key ingredient?? Us!

You have amazing potential as a creation of God. Allow Him to mold and shape that potential so that you blossom into the person that God has created you to be. At times, that will seem excruciatingly difficult. In other moments, you will feel completely at peace and blessed. All the while, there is one promise that you can always hold on to: God will be with you.

So start working now. Work out your faith. Get to work in your job. Work hard for your marriage. Work well in everything that you do! The reward of being a faithful worker will be more than you could ever have imagined. As the Lord is faithful, so I also encourage you to remain steadfast and faithful. (2 Thess. 3:3)