We have been working our way through the book of Acts and looking at the call on our lives as followers of Jesus to be Holy Spirit empowered witnesses of Jesus. The teaching has evoked some significant discussion. I believe that the gospel is represented by both message and deeds. That both are vital and are glued together with "relationship". There are, of course, various levels of relationship. I watch the portrayal of Paul in Acts and I wonder about the relationships forged behind the words. How much time did he spend interacting with others? Did he ever shovel someone else’s driveway? Did he take fresh baked cookies to a new neighbour? You get the picture.
Then there is the realization that we all aren’t called to be Paul. Most of us fit into the category of Acts 2 and the witness in Jerusalem through the gathering in homes across the city. This description is highly relational. Propositional – yes but very much relational.
One of the men who influenced my life when I was twenty something was Bill Commons of ABWE. He has written an article entitled "More Than Words" which summarizes well the point.
NT Wright has written a new book "Surprised by Hope" in which he states that he believes our understanding of heaven is distorted. Time Magazine recentily interviewed Wright about his book and the topic. Of great interest is Wright’s description of the Intermediate State.
No doubt heaven is a touchy theological topic. We should, however, be open to the question of what really is the hope of the scriptures, Heaven or the New Heaven and Earth? What dost thou think or does it matter at all?
Macleans just published the results of the 3M awards for best teachers at the university level in Canada. Among the list is The King’s University Peter Mahaffy. Mahaffy has been described as "Mister Chemical Educator" of the world no doubt a claim that very few aspire towards but nevertheless significant. It is great to see a follower of Jesus who is a chemist being honoured for excellence in teaching.
Here is to all who strive to represent Christ with their intellects. Good on ya!
I just finished reading CT last night and loved the article by Tim Stafford, "This Samaritan Life". This article has much to do with the dialogue we are having on being witnesses of Jesus (Acts sermon series) on Sunday mornings. Stafford’s thesis is that we live in a Samaria like culture where Christians and non . . . are familiar with what each other believes but our starting point with each other is suspicion. I found his comments on how we tend to respond to this interesting and worthy of reflection.
"We tend to respond by keeping quiet, by assimilating, or by throwing down the gauntlet. All three options tend to shut down discussion and to limit our opportunity to be salt and light." (CT, Feb 2008, page 49)
How do we talk about Jesus in this kind of world? I confess there are times I wonder if we live more in Babylon "a place where what you believe or how you worship is of little significance . . . so long as you keep the peace and contribute to civic life" (page 47). Samaria is probably more the norm for my social interaction. I concur with Stafford (quoting Keller) that dialogue about Jesus in this kind of culture requires more personal conversation, open discussion (less superiority and much more humility), creative language more than classic arguments, and a love for the long haul outlook.
In a postmodern world where tolerance means affirming all differences as equally valuable, reasoned arguments are not the main means of witness. James words ring true in our world – faith without words is dead.
Last week I had the privilege of hanging out with a group of pastors for the better part of a day. I love these opportunities and I get so much benefit from these times. I always learn something.
One of the things I learned last week was how to clear the room of a group of pastors. I have been for some time interested in knowing of churches in Canada that people perceive God is working in, communities of faith that are making disciples (new and growing) who love God completely and others sacrificially with great effectiveness. So during our lunch break I asked, "anyone know where God is really at work?" I confess that this is a loaded question and worthy of exegetical push back but the lack of response and the subsequent evacuation of the room seems to indicate that not many of us involved in vocational ministry are willing to nominate our churches or are aware of many other churches that fit the answer to that question.
So do any of you know where God is really at work? If so name it and tell us why you think this is the case!