Thursday, April 15, 2010

True Humility

Last weekend while attending Hope Force International training, I listened to an enlightening series, laced with wise, whispering words about humility.

Snug in my cushion of coziness, my spiritual understanding soared, engaged with interest yet slight discomfort due to truth (over)saturation. Still, in light of the perpetual parade of “amen’s” and “Yes, Lord’s”, I figured I’d deposit some fresh nuggets of delicious revelation on the cyber table of inquiry.

But enough of the verbiage. Let’s get down to “business”! Besides, most people simply want to know what humility is and how it works, a very nice place to start indeed…

So what about this facet of righteousness do we know?

For starters, most of us know humility involves a lack of pride, commonly noted behind the many pulpits of America. Others conjure up ideas of modesty and goodness of heart…all right answers, though I’d submit not completely correct.

Even worse are the mentalities of those who downplay humility to the point it’s not perceived as virtue. What is tragic? I know, Mr. Trebek.

Based on gathered receptions, I contend humility should be well received by present and future generations. Why? Because true humility is the genuine effort to be authentic, robed by a willingness to be recognized for who you really are. The bottom line goes back to that pleasure-quenching word: real. All definitions, rules, and boundaries bow to that which is true and sincere versus what is fake and artificial. It’s that simple. And who doesn’t like simple in a complex, muddled world of depravity?

Paul’s life was a story of two halves marked by defining irony. In the first half, (S)aul spent years counterfeiting his soul, putting on a sort of masquerading veneer to his divinely appointed identity. Briefly tapping into my sports enthuse, one could say his early years imitated the story of an underachieving basketball team sunk by turnovers and poor execution (no pun intended). And like bad court-play, Saul, through the persecution of what he would eventually become, set himself up for a major halftime deficit and a dramatic comeback.

Still, after two periods, Paul’s scoreboard with respect to humility wasn’t very good. No doubt, the demons surrounding his life were winning as he strode off to Damascus that climatic day. Of course, most of us know the conversion account, and how God used a regenerated Paul to change the spiritual landscape of the future. God’s victory through Paul at the end of the game would triumph…

What amazes me about Paul is his level of humility in his writings, teachings and words as his ministry matures…

Check out I Corinthians 15:9-11:

For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

Now that’s good stuff! For one thing, Paul provides the most basic yet profound twist on grace in the New Testament. By transforming grace, we are who we are – changed agents saved from sin’s sting of death. But note how he weaves humility in with grace throughout this passage. To be effective Christians, we have to be who we are, an intense blend of 1) how God designed us to 2) working hard to stay faithful to His commands, His mercy, His faithfulness, etc. If anyone needed a 1-2 punch on how to be a real person, there you go! Be true to yourself…IN CHRIST and be true to God. (As if you can hide anything from Him anyway…)

The buzzer sounds on your life and who do you want to be known for? The answers could vary, but the one consistent lining I’d vie for is being real…for real…

Humility. Chew and savor…

Bon appétit!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Missional Triune

For the Church to radically fulfill its mission, the kerygma, koinonia, and diakonia must be in sync, or in unison concerning how each facet of ministry is exercised and utilized. In order for the Spirit-filled Church to faithfully influence culture and the lost, each component should be entirely associated with a transcending Kingdom mindset. In order for successful engagement between these components and culture to take place, each missional element must remain intertwined among every spiritual dimension, so that firm foundations may be established within the church.

The proclamation aspect, kerygma, should not only teach the Word and minister truth effectively, but it should also encourage the koinonia constituent for stronger fellowship in the Body. Essentially, the communal vision of a church should not be separated or distinct from the missional vision. Contrarily, the two should provide a one-two punch so believers can live among community in a way that bridges the Kingdom with culture. When service and benevolence, along with worship, become ultimate, rightly placed priorities among koinonia, diakonia is produced, thus satisfying an essential ingredient in continuing Jesus’ ministry through the Church. As quoted by Harper and Metzger in “Exploring Ecclesiology”, John Perkins states, “…the Church should maintain a vital presence in the community and abandon upwardly mobile ways to identify…[recreating] family and community by becoming an incarnate presence in society…” (244).

Furthermore, as Althouse notes in “Towards a Pentecostal Ecclesiology: Participation in the Missional Life of the Triune God”, the kerygma, koinonia, and diakonia ministries of the Church should mirror the missional values of the Trinity characterized by “the proclamation of the Word made flesh in Christ Jesus...the fellowship we have inside and outside the Church for the other...and the service we give to the other reflected in the kenotic self-giving of God in Christ Jesus by the Spirit” (245).
In other words, kerygma should play an important part in voicing the connection between ecclesiology and missiology, koinonia as the uniting dialogue between ecclesiology and missiology, and diakonia providing the final portrait of the amalgamated relationship between ecclesiology and missiology. Embodied in each dimension is the call to abide by the Great Commission and the greatest commandments: to love God with all one’s heart and one’s neighbor as oneself. To be missionally effective requires a love-relationship with God first and foremost; however, this relationship must filter into human relationships as well.

Karkkainen, in “Towards a Pneumatological Theology”, captures the essence of diakonia and its relationship with koinonia well, by reminding us that the early Christians’ concern “for the poor, widows, and strangers was not seen as entirely separate activity but rather an extension of their worship (214). While today’s Church is somewhat capped by compartmentalization of responsibility, the early Church lived out diakonia as a continuation of koinonia, while understanding the importance of every action being an act of worship unto the Lord.

Harper and Metzger contribute additional notions, claiming how“[reshaping] our relational, familial, and vocational values in light of Christ’s countercultural and upside-down kingdom values” inspire the work of Christ to manifest and be made known among those we reach to (268). In doing so, the power of the Church, Christ’s bride, is enhanced and strengthened, forming an even tighter bond among each missional dimension.