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I long for church communities that are Christ-centred, grace-filled, all-of-life and intentionally missional.  I love the vision that Tim Chester casts for this and have benefited massively from the resources he's offered the wider church in this direction (see these superb talks for instance).

Let me raise one issue though - it's an issue that generated some good discussion on Tim's blog and I hope it will generate some more here - perhaps from Tim but from any others too.

Tim was writing about the imbalance of resources that many churches pour into "the Sunday morning event".   Very true.  I've heard people speak in hushed tones about some gold standard of sermon preparation - an hour in the study for every minute in the pulpit.  Yowsers!  If that's the cost of gathering around word and sacrament then I can well understand the desire to re-balance the expenditure of resources.

But there's something deeper to discuss than the re-allocation of resources or the degree of formality to our meetings.  What I want to establish is the absolute necessity of the event for the life of church.  Church is not just family, it is also an event and irreducibly so.  I'll say it that starkly because I know how popular it is to speak of church as ongoing-missional-community in opposition to chuch as event.

In our discussions, Tim said this:

Church is not an event, but a Christ-centred community of people with a shared life.

I disagree.  I’d say say church is also an event and irreducibly so.

Church has its being in becoming.  It ever becomes what it is as it hears God's word.  In this way church is the community called out (ekklesia) to listen to its risen Lord in the proclamation of word and sacrament.  This is the centre of the life of the community.

Let me just take one Scriptural example from Paul.  We are one body because we all share in the one bread (1 Cor 10:17). That is pretty stunning language – and it’s very ‘eventist’.  Here is a consummation of one-body-ness in which we become what we are. The event and the on-going life of the body are inter-dependent.

Think of marriage.  The covenant reality is that husband and wife are one flesh.  But there is an event in which they become one flesh (if you were Presbyterian you might even call it covenant renewal!).

It’s commanded in Scripture (cf 1 Cor 7) and it takes time and effort and a measure of ritual and it’s irreducibly an event.  Of course the degree of ritual and cost and time-expenditure will vary according to many factors.  But to imagine I can think of an ongoing covenant life without also thinking about the one-flesh event is a big danger in marriage.

And, by parallel, church life needs to be maintained by consciously enjoyed and anticipated and ritualised “events” in our church life together.  We can't do without them.  And however much it's necessary to speak of day-in, day-out community life we dare not lose language of event either.  The old reformed ecclesiologies speak of gathering around word and sacrament.  They didn't forget that we were family, but they did highlight that there were foundational "events" at the centre of church life.

So we say Yes to shared life, Yes to Christ-centred community.  But the way in which our community is “centred” around Christ takes a certain form.  The centre is an actual, concrete centre around which we orient ourselves.  As Christ's community therefore we order ourselves around the place where Christ is given to us. And He is given to us supremely in word and sacrament.

Tim speaks of the community life of church in these terms:

There is nowhere else when grace is experienced. There is nowhere else where God is present by his Spirit.

I'd say that in word and sacrament there are certain promises attached of God’s special presence by His Spirit.  I think therefore the language of ‘event’ needs to be held onto.

And primarily I think it needs to be maintained for the sake of up-holding two other concerns:

1) We are communities of grace.  Tim is huge on this and I've been very blessed by his insights on this (e.g.).  But if we want to be communities of grace we need to orient ourselves around where Christ is given to us, not primarily around what Christ would have us do.

2) We are communities of proclamation.  Where we honour the “event” of Church, we honour “proclamation”.  While our community life preaches to the world (John 13:35; 17:21) I'd want to co-ordinate this to a centre of verbal proclamation that constitutes and re-constitutes the community.

I'm very well aware that Tim and his churches manage to preserve what I'm seeking to preserve a thousand times better than I ever will.  But I just wanted to raise a flag for the absolute importance of "event" in church life.  I hope you can see why.

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Karl Barth died 41 years ago today.

Here are a few of my favourite quotes from him:

On his own theology:

My whole theology, you see, is fundamentally a theology for parsons. It grew out of my own situation when I had to teach and preach and counsel a little. (From a radio broadcast made shortly before Barth’s death. Quoted from William Willimon, Conversations with Barth on Preaching, Abingdon Press, 2006.)

On the reason for theology:

The normal and central fact with which dogmatics has to do is, very simply, the Church’s Sunday sermon of yesterday and to-morrow, and so it will continue to be.” (Church Dogmatics I/1, p91)

On theological method

Jesus Christ, as he is attested to us in Holy Scripture, is the one Word of God whom we have to hear, and whom we have to trust and obey in life and in death.  (Article 1 of the Barmen Declaration)


On the bible:

“The Bible says all sorts of things, certainly; but in all this multiplicity and variety, it says in truth only one thing – just this: the name of Jesus Christ… The Bible becomes clear when it is clear that is says this one thing… The Bible remains dark to us if we do not hear in it this sovereign name… Interpretation stands in the service of the clarity which the Bible as God’s Word makes for itself; and we can properly interpret the Bible, in whole or part, only when we perceive and show that what it says is said from the point of view of that… name of Jesus Christ.”  (Church Dogmatics I/2, p720)

At bottom, the Church is in the world only with a book in its hands. We have no other possibility to bear witness except to explain this book.” (God in Action, p107-8)

On creation and covenant

Creation is the outward basis of the covenant and the covenant is the inward basis of creation.  (Church Dogmatics III/1, ch41)

On church:

The essence of the Church is proclamation.  (Homiletics, p40)

On the Christian life:

"Ye shall be witnesses unto me" (Acts 1:8) – this is enough for the one to whom Christ speaks and who has heard Him. Whether strong or weak, willing or unwilling, successful or unsuccessful, the Christian is a witness, irrespective of whether the miracle occurs, or whether it occurs visibly or invisibly. In all circumstances and with the whole of his existence he is a responsible witness of the Word of God. He is called to be this. As such he is set at the side of God in the world, and therefore set over against the world.’ (Church Dogmatics IV/3, p609)

On proofs for God:

Note well: in the whole Bible of the Old and New Testaments not the slightest attempt is ever made to prove God. This attempt has always been made only outside the biblical view of God, and only where it has been forgotten with whom we have to do, when we speak of God. What sort of attempts were they, after all, where the attempt was make to prove a perfect Being alongside imperfect ones? Or from the existence of the world to prove the ordering Power? Or the moral proof of God from the face of man’s conscience? I will not enter into these proofs of God. I don’t know whether you can at once see the humour and the fragility of these proofs. These proofs may avail for the alleged gods; if it were my task to make you acquainted with these allegedly supreme beings, I would occupy myself with the five famous proofs of God. In the Bible there is no such argumentation; the Bible simply speaks of God simply as of One who needs no proof. It speaks of a God who proves Himself on every hand: Here I am, and since I am and live and act it is superfluous that I should be proved. On the basis of this divine self-proof the prophets and apostles speak. In the Christian Church there can be no speaking about God in any other way. God has not the slightest need for our proofs. (Dogmatics in Outline, 38)

On apologetics:

The great danger of apologetics is “the domesticating of revelation… the process of making the Gospel respectable. When the Gospel is offered to man, and he stretches out his hand to receive it and takes it into his hand, an acute danger arises which is greater than the danger that he may not understand it and angrily reject it. The danger is that he may accept it and peacefully and at once make himself its lord and possessor, thus rendering it inoccuous, making that which chooses him something which he himself has chosen, which therefore comes to stand as such alongside all the other things that he can also choose, and therefore control.” (Church Dogmatics II/1, p141)

On assurance (this is perhaps my favourite Barth quote):

“We might imagine the conversation...  The man to whom [the Word of grace is spoken] thinks and says that he is not this new, peaceful, joyful man living in fellowship. He asks leave honestly to admit that he does not know this man, or at least himself as this man.

The Word of grace replies: ‘All honour to your honesty, but my truth transcends it. Allow yourself, therefore, to be told in all truth and on the most solid grounds what you do not know, namely, that you are this man in spite of what you think.’

Man: ‘ You think that I can and should become this man in the course of time? But I do not have sufficient confidence in myself to believe this. Knowing myself, I shall never become this man.’

The Word of grace: ‘You do well not to have confidence in yourself. But the point is not that you can and should become this man. What I am telling you is that, as I know you, you already are.’

Man: ‘I understand that you mean this eschatologically. You are referring to the man I perhaps will be one day in some not very clearly known transfiguration in a distant eternity. If only I had attained to this! And if only I could be certain that even then I should be this new man!’

The Word of grace: ‘You need to understand both yourself and me better than you do. I am not inviting you to speculate about your being in eternity, but to receive and ponder the news that here and now you begin to be the new man, and are already that which you will be eternally.’

Man: ‘How can I accept this news? On what guarantee can I make bold to take is seriously?’

The Word of grace: ‘I, Jesus Christ, am the One who speaks to you. You are what you are in Me, as I will to be in you. Hold fast to Me. I am your guarantee. My boldness is yours. With this boldness dare to be what you are?’

Man: ‘I certainly hear the message, but…’

In this perplexed and startled ‘but’ we see the attack, and who it is that is attacked.” (Church Dogmatics, V/2, p250)

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Do you have a favourite Barth quote?  Why not leave it in comments.

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“My whole theology, you see, is fundamentally a theology for parsons.  It grew out of my own situation when I had to teach and preach and counsel a little.

Worship is all of life right?  Romans 12:1 right?

Well ok.  But try telling your spouse, "We don't need to set aside special time for each other, marriage is all of life.'

No, no, no.  Church is date-night.  (My Sunday night sermon).

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Lest you think I've taken a disastrous turn towards the self, here's Bonhoeffer on the only basis for Christian community - the alien righteousness of Christ.  There is here a whole theology of salvation, of church, of pastoral care and of preaching:

The death and the life of the Christian is not determined by his own resources; rather he finds both only in the Word that comes to him from the outside, in God's Word to him.  The Reformers expressed it this way: Our righteousness is an 'alien righteousness' a righteousness that comes outside of us (extra nos).  They were saying that the Christian is dependent on the Word of God spoken to him.  He is pointed outward, to the Word that comes to him.  The Christian lives wholly by the truth of God's Word in Jesus Christ.  If someone asks him, Where is your salvation, your righteousness? he can never point to himself.  He points to the Word of God in Jesus Christ, which assures him salvation and righteousness.  He is as alert as possible to this Word.  Because he daily hungers and thirsts for righteousness, he daily desires the redeeming Word.  And it can come only from the outside.  In himself he is destitute and dead.  Help must come from the outside, and it has come and comes daily and anew in the Word of Jesus Christ, bringing redemption, righteousness, innocence and blessedness.

But God has put this Word in the mouth of men in order that it may be communicated to other men. When one person is struck by the Word, he speaks it to others. God has willed that we should seek and find His living Word in the witness of a brother, in the mouth of man. Therefore, the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself without belying the truth. He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation. He needs his brother solely because of Jesus Christ. The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother, his own heart is uncertain, his brother’s is sure

And that also clarifies the goal of all Christian community: they meet one another as bringers of the message of salvation.  As such, God permits them to meet together and gives them community.  Their fellowship is founded solely upon Jesus Christ and this 'alien righteousness'.  All we can say therefore is: the community of Christians springs solely from the biblical and Reformation message of the justification of man through grace alone; this alone is the basis of the longing of Christians for one another.  (Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, SCM Press, 1954, p11-12)

 

In the last post, we saw the deepest continuity between God's mission and ours.

But now we must highlight the discontinuity.

Continuity and Discontinuity

Perhaps the Matthean Great Commission will show both the continuity and discontinuity points:

'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.' (Matt 28:18-20).

Here at the resurrection of Christ we see the very consummation of the missio Dei declared decisively in history.  And incredibly Christ says 'therefore', and with that connector He lays bare a profound continuity between God's mission and ours.  The Gospel-mission of God is handed to the Church. 

Yet precisely because our mission comes from the hand of the risen Christ it must not be confused with His.  Here is where the discontinuity comes in.  Our marching orders do not come from a hopeful Commander, trusting us to win victory.  Emphatically our commission comes from the Victor.  All authority is His.  The risen Christ has established the kingdom.  Sin is atoned for, wrath is averted, Satan is vanquished, death is defeated, heaven and earth are reconciled, Man stands on the earth as King under God.  And where this Head has come, His body will most certainly follow.  What can the church, His body, add to such an accomplishment?  All we can do is point to this King and this kingdom. 

Christ's command is simply to 'go' with His resurrection power and presence in a baptizing and teaching ministry that realizes in advance of His return that obedience in the nations which Easter has already won.

Our part in the missio Dei is, therefore, very different to Christ's, yet, on the basis of His completed work we are called to extend His mission to the world. 

Consequences of this Continuity and Discontinuity

Now that we've seen both the continuity and discontinuity between God's mission and ours we can elaborate on some consequences.

Firstly, because of the discontinuity point, we see that faithfulness to the completed missio Dei in the resurrection of Christ requires witnesses not activists.  We do not bring redemption to the world, we bring Christ to the world as One who has already accomplished our redemption. 

We betray our gospel-mission the minute we think we can establish Christ's kingdom.  We do not save the world.  In the risen Christ it is already saved.   We are not the do-ers - we are witnesses to His ultimate and all-encompassing Doing.  We 'go' as heralds not mini-saviours.

Secondly, because of the continuity point, we can learn much about the nature of our mission by enquiring as to the nature of the missio Dei.  Let us ask, does God's mission have a centre and goal?  And what is it?

We can answer this with confidence.  The purposes of the Father from all ages have been exclusively focussed on His Son.[1]  In the power of the Spirit, His word has been the agent for all divine activity in creation and redemption.[2]  In the Incarnation of the Word, the Father gives to Jesus His word,[3] which accomplished all that Jesus does,[4] and it is this word that Jesus entrusts to his followers.[5]  The Church has inherited a Gospel mission for the world, i.e. the Father's mission to the exalt His Son in His Spirit-empowered word.

The triune God - the God who is Sender, Sent and Perfector - is not concerned in a general glorification of Himself nor of the world.  His mission has never been an abstract betterment of the creation.  Rather, the purposes of this Gospel God have always been to create and redeem a people - to reach out and to draw in a bride for the Son, an inheritance for the Heir, a body for the Head.  The goal of God has always been the glorification of the Son through the inclusion of His people by the Spirit so that all may participate in the triune life. 

To put it more plainly, from beginning to end God's mission is wholly and thoroughly evangelistic.  Both creation and redemption find their place within this evangelistic economy.

Next time we will see the implications of this for our mission.  In particular we will argue that since God's mission is thoroughly evangelistic, so must ours be.

 


[1] Psalm 2:1-12; Psalm 110:1; Daniel 7:13,14; Romans 8:29; Ephesians 1:10; Colossians 1:15f

[2] 2 Peter 3:5-7; Hebrews 1:3; 1 Peter 1:23; John 1:1-3; 5:24; 6:63,68;

[3] John 8:55; 14:24;

[4] John 14:10; Mark 4:41; Luke 4:43; John 5:24; 12:48; 17:17

[5] John 15:20; 17:6,14,20

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7

blues-brothers-mission-god

When Karl Barth addressed the Brandenburg Missionary Conference in 1932 he introduced a missiological perspective which has determined the shape of mission theology in every part of the Church. 

"Must not even the most faithful missionary, the most convinced friend of missions, have reason to reflect that the term missio was in the ancient Church an expression of the doctrine of the Trinity-namely the expression of the divine sending forth of self, the sending of the Son and Holy Spirit to the world? Can we indeed claim that we do it any other way?"

Barth cuts through soteriological or eschatological consideration to bring us right back to the Source of mission.  It is not that 'Salvation is like this therefore mission should be like that.'  It is not that 'The End will be like this, so mission should be like that.'   No, the real argument is that 'God's being is like this, therefore mission should be like that!'  There are missions because of the missio Dei - because God is a sending God.  In Himself, in eternity, God's being is a being of outgoing love.  This is the Fountainhead for mission.

David Bosch has memorably put it like this:

To participate in mission is to participate in the movement of God's love toward people, since God is a fountain of sending love.

This insight has been picked up by all wings of the Church, from the conciliar to the Anabaptist, from the Roman Catholic to the evangelical. 

More important than all this consensus however is the bible's own testimony.

 Consider the Johannine 'great commission': 

As the Father has sent me I am sending you.  (John 20:21; cf 17:18).

We ought to take that little word 'as' with full seriousness.  In the same way that the Father sends the Son, so the Son sends His church.  Let us ask, how has the Father sent the Son?

Lest we be Arians we must acknowledge that the Son's generation from the Father is not a mere product of the Father's will in time.  It is rather an eternal begetting that is of the very essence of the eternal Godhead.  There is not a God and then a sending.  There has only ever been a sending God - the missio Dei.  Both Father and Son are eternally constituted in these relations of Sending and Sent.

The Son's being and act is a being and act found and expressed in the Father's sending.  The Son's own life is a life in mission.  This has always been true in eternity and it was made manifest in incarnation.

Christ's most common self-identification in John is as the One sent from the Father.  And His most common articulation of His mission was always to do the will of His Father - a will expressed in thoroughly evangelistic terms - e.g. John 3:16; 4:23; 6:29; 6:38-40.  Christ is sent as the world's Saviour, the One who seeks worshippers for the Father, who glorifies the Father in His saving death and only then says 'it is finished' (John 19:30).

Therefore, because Christ's being is a missionary being, so His activity is a missionary activity. 

On the cross, the true being and glory of the Son was manifested, and in Him the glory of the triune God  (e.g. John 13:32; 17:5).  Here was demonstrated Christ's obedience to the Father and, at one and the same time, His love for the world.  Christ's being and act are laid bare at Golgotha, and shown to be a missionary being and act.

Therefore, returning to John 20:21, we see the continuity of Christ's mission with ours.  Just as Christ has His being in sent-ness for the world's salvation, so does the church.  We have received a commission that was passed from the Father to the Son in the depths of eternity.  Our missionary activity finds its origin not in any human enthusiasm for witness but in the being of God.  And our sent-ness for the salvation of the world is not only our activity.  It is, like God's own missio, constitutive of our very life.

'The Christian community is not sent into the world haphazardly or at random, but with a very definite task. It does not exist before its task and later acquire it.  Nor does it exist apart from it, so that there can be no question whether or not it might have or execute it.  It exists for the world.  Its task constitutes and fashions it from the very outset.  If it had not been given it, it would not have come into being.  If it were to lose it, it would not continue.  It is not then a kind of imparted dignity.  It exists only as it has it, or rather only as the task has it. Nor is it a kind of burden laid upon it.  It is the inalienable foundation which bears it.  Every moment of its history it is measured by it. It stands or falls with it in all its expressions, in all its action or abstention. It either understands itself in the light of its task or not at all.' (Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, IV/3, p796.)

'[The task of the Church] is no less, no more and no other than the ministry of witness required of it and constituting it.' (Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, IV/3, p834))

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This began life as an essay I wrote for post-ordination training.

Typically 'mission' is understood as an activity that the church undertakes.  On this understanding, the church, alongside its other duties, is also a sender and supporter of gospel workers. 

mission1

In this paradigm a church may seek to enlarge their "sending arrow" greatly.  They may tirelessly champion missionary work, hold constant prayer meetings for overseas workers, schedule regular missions' Sundays with special fundraising efforts.  They could receive constant visits and prayer-letters from missionaries.  They may even have a missions or outreach committee with a significant budget to support the work.  Such churches may be used wonderfully by the Lord.  And they would undoubtedly gain a reputation for being a 'sending church'.

But what should we make of this? 

Certainly such an ethos is far superior to the sleepy church that thinks of nothing but maintaining its own buildings and ageing congregation.  We might think - better to have one arrow among many than none at all!  And that would be true.

Yet even such an activist church has missed something foundational to a theology of mission.  Namely this: Mission is not something the local church does.  Church is not the sender of gospel witnesses.  The church is the body that is sent. 

mission2 

We are the missionaries - the church as a whole.  Our very existence is an existence on mission.  We have our being as church in the commission which is laid upon the whole body to be Christ's witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).  Mission is not what we do, it is who we are.

As a friend from Crosslinks recently remarked, the ultimate missionary movement is not "West to the rest" nor is it "The rest to the west."  The ultimate missionary movement is always Heaven to Earth.  We are not senders so much as sent.  As members of Christ's missionary body we find ourselves, wherever we are, as His ambassadors, God making His appeal through us.  This is not a function that we resolve to undertake (whether poorly or eagerly), it is the very nature of our life together.

Such thinking is radical, yet it is the necessary outcome of a theology of mission grounded in the Missio Dei.

More on this in the next post...

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16

Codepoke made this comment on my last post on "personality types"

Still conflicted. :-)

If the Spirit has gifted you as a pastor and you torture yourself trying to prophecy, you have not benefited anyone. Some are eyes and some are feet. When the eye tries to do its part in the body by being walked on, good things do not happen to the eye or to the body. Taking guidance from a foot, savoring our food with our hands, and balancing the checkbook with our tongues would all be egalitarian but not spiritual.

Yes it’s possible to err with the personality message, but it’s possible to err with spiritual gifts too. It makes no more sense to throw the one out than the other.

If Jesus made the evergreen and the deciduous tree, should the deciduous tree feel guilty for not being always green? And if Jesus made one man an NF and the other an SJ will He iconoclastically make both into the “perfect” neutral personality?

Good points!

Let me make a couple of clarifications:

1) The trinity tells me that difference in no way compromises one-ness / equality.  One of my hobby horses is to allow the Persons to be considered in all their distinctiveness and not let them be dissolved into some common essence.  Humanity made in the image of this God will wonderfully reflect these distinctions.  Difference is not at all a bad thing!

2) There is definitely such a thing as natural temperament - ie a way that this Trinue God has made me.  Pre-fall and post-return we will still be gloriously different from one another and should not bemoan this fact but rejoice in it. The 'perfect' personality is certainly not 'neutral.'

3) There are definitely different Spirit-given gifts that do not work against unity but are in fact an expression of our unity - even in all our distinctness. (cf 1 Cor 12)

Posts like this one have me banging the drum for all these points.

4) There are spiritual gifts that specially equip certain people to serve the body in particular ways. 

5)  Having said this, we all have certain responsibilities to uphold even if we don't have that gifting.  Some have the gift of service (Rom 12:7) but all should serve.  Some have the gift of 'contributing to the needs of others' (Rom 12:8) but all should give.  Some have the gift of evangelism (Eph 4:11) but all should play their part in evangelism.  Some have the gift of administation (1 Cor 12:28) but all have admin to do, etc. 

6) I can bring my giftings and differentness to bear in a very rich way upon the tasks I'm called to do.  I will serve differently to you, give differently, evangelise differently and administrate differently - all to the glory of God.  And the church should definitely not seek to do those things in a monochrome way.

7) I recognize in myself advantages to being laid back when it comes (for instance) to admin.  If my deadline is Friday and an emergency comes up Wednesday afternoon it does not phase me in the slightest.  In fact I'm pretty cool when Thursday goes up in smoke too.  I know that I can work close to the deadline and that does free me to serve elsewhere with less distraction / guilt / pressure earlier in the process.  I also recognize that for larger projects those with the gift of administration can serve me by setting me mini-deadlines along the way and getting me to be more forward thinking.  In this example we're all doing admin but we're doing it in line with our different giftings.  Great!

But...

8) I'm not sure Jesus made me 'ENFP'.  In fact I'm pretty sure He didn't.  I've read school reports from Australia (where I lived until I was 15) and I was hard-working, diligent, organised, focussed etc etc.  When I moved to the UK I found that I was ahead of the school curriculum by at least 18 months in every subject.  I also found that it really, really was not cool to work hard in the UK.  So I stopped.  I then went to a tertiary institution whose unofficial motto was "Effortlessly superior."  And that pretty much defined the personality idol that I sought.  Throbbing behind ENFP for me is this counterfeit motto: 'Effortlessly superior.'  I'm not purely and simply ENFP, I know in myself that I seek after such a persona, attempting to justify myself before this false god.  (I am an appallingly sinful, proud young man and I'm aware that my experience will not be the same as others.  But on the off chance that there are other who sin in these kinds of ways I offer these cautionary thoughts.)  

9) I certainly had the experience (and I know others have as well) of filling out my Myers-Briggs test and being aware that my answers conformed as much to an ideal that I nurture as they did to genuine reality.  This is what I mean about our personality types being aspirational.  There's a big part of me that wants to say 'I'm not an admin person.'  And this has nothing to do with my organizational abilities.  It is purely a kind of snobbery that says 'Admin is not rock and roll.'  Certain tasks do not conform to the image I have of myself.  And so I let them drop and I justify it saying 'I am not...'

10)  ENFP is not who I am.  ENFP has a great deal to do with sinful choices I have made in order to navigate life according to false views of identity, justification, true life.  I certainly do have a God-given temperament and I certainly do have particular spiritual gifts but I wouldn't equate that with my Myers-Briggs type.  Not at all.

 

Your example, codepoke, of doing admin in a different way from your gifted daughter is pretty much the perfect example of what I'm wanting to say.  You are well aware that just because Myers-Briggs calls you 'NFP' does not excuse you from being faithful in the tasks God has given you, rather your differentness gives you a distinct and valuable way of doing that.  And it certainly will involve, at many points, handing off things to others in the body who are gifted for it. 

If we're mature (like codepoke - I mean that!) we'll handle this with humility and joy!  Humility because we confess that these things are great things to do but that I am desperately inadequate for them.  Joy because I rejoice in the giftings of others and the Spirit-given unity we have in Christ's body.

If we're immature (like me!) we'll handle that with pride and/or despair.  Pride because deep down I'm saying 'I'm not that kind of person (whose abilities I don't greatly value anyway).'  Despair because I'd really like to be omnicompetent and not need help.

I'm sure I've overstated things in my usual soap-box style.  But you'll be aware by now that these issues lie close to some pretty strong idols for me - hence the vigourous tone and lack of nuance.  Correction and criticism always very welcome (he said in a very non-ENFP kind of way). 

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What is church like?

Is it a jacuzzi? 

Cosy? Relaxing?  A chance for you and your nearest and dearest to recharge the batteries?

Or is it...

A waterfall?

 

 

 Scary?  Exciting?  Expansive?  Never safe?

Or is it... and here's my new word for the week...

A jacuzzerfall

Here we see the blessings of our close fellowship in Christ flowing out and blessing the whole world.

9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12 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 2:9-12)

This is what church is like - a jacuzzerfall.  (Now go and use the word this week)

And here's a sermon I preached on Sunday on the subject.

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