Posted by: minnow | June 28, 2009

Following Divine Footsteps

Some days all I really need to say is AMEN to something someone else has said better than I have been able to say it.  Today is such a day.  The following quotes by Julie Clawson at One Hand Clapping  express the frustration some emerging missional believers have with those who would like to stereotype us as not really believing in Christ:

“Don’t know how many times we have to stand up and say that caring for the Kingdom, seeking justice, and loving others is  all about choosing to focus more on Christ.  As Christians we believe in him and follow him.  He said, if you love me you will obey me.  Not, “if you love me, you will worship a ethereal, conceptualized version of me that is disembodied from action and the world I came to save.”  ”

In our attempts to defend the idea of working toward realizing the Kingdom on earth emerging missional types often come off sounding like we have forgotten the deity of Christ. Yet, more often building relationship with the God-man is precisely why we seem focused almost exclusively on orthopraxy.  Correct practice is an expression of our deep love for God as well as the deeper love we feel emanating from Him toward us.  Our obedience to His commands confirms our faith that He is indeed divine and worthy to be obeyed. 

The danger in picking either/or rather than both/and was articulated well by Clawson and bares repeating:

“When following Jesus becomes simply about doing works or simply about standing in awe of a divine person then we’ve got problems – and a Jesus that has nothing to do with the Jesus of the Bible.”

Exchanging one deficient version of Jesus for a different, equally deficient version accomplishes nothing and in fact reduces our faith to a whitewashed tomb rather than an empty one.  After His resurrection Jesus told Peter to feed His sheep.  He told the eleven to go and make disciples, to drive out demons and to heal the sick.  During the last supper He told His disciples to love each other in the same way that He loved them.  Just as their obedience was to be their witness, our obedience is to be ours. 

Ignoring, or worse denying, the social gospel is the same as saying God does not love the world He claims to love and did not send His Son because of His love for the world.  We can still honor Him as an all powerful Creator but without His love offering we have no path to the Father.  And, without a path to the Father our faith is as good as dead.  Peter basically tell the early Church the same thing when he say in 2 Peter 1:8: For if you possess these qualities [faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love] in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective  and unproductive  in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

Our knowledge of Christ has a job to do, a job that is part of our walking out of our salvation and our showing our faith by our works.  On this point the writers of the New Testament agree.  We no longer “work” in order to satisfy the law or meet the demands of a covenent we kept breaking.  Our “work” is in response to what Christ alone accomplished.  We love because He first loved us.  Nothing we do can undo His love.  But everything we do has the potential to reflect it.  The choice is ours.  Let’s choose love.

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