Saturday, July 2, 2011

Timothy Gombis on "God's Missional Sustenance for God's people"

Timothy Gombis has posted something really nice in his blog. It's his reflection after a number of posts on John 4. It ends with Gombis' own experience in his church. For years I have been thinking about what the Christian community should be like, and I am really glad to find that Gombis is saying something very similar to what I have in mind (and he articulates it so much better). Here are some excerpts from his blog post.

"I’ve been thinking about this in relation to divine election as the identity of the people of God.  So often we shrink back from this notion because it seems to imply an “insiders only” mentality.  “We’re God’s elect and they aren’t.”  We may have seen a doctrine of election put to use to endorse a lack of redemptive involvement in the wider culture."

"Jesus indicates, however, that it is only when the church encounters outsiders in open-ended relationships that we are sustained."

"First, we do not encounter the other—or, the world—with a posture of condescension, arrogance, or even in order to set anyone right.  Just as Jesus asked the woman for a drink, taking on a posture of mutuality and even need, we ought to cultivate friendships and relationships of mutuality with others."

"There are countless ways that churches can relate to outsiders and to surrounding culture(s) that follow the pattern of Jesus, but so many of these are unexplored.  We tend only to imagine manipulative relationships, ones that will “get results.”"

"Churches can offer to clean up local neighborhoods, care for town parks, staff after-school services for kids from low-income homes,... And we can serve the world in these ways with no interest in “the bottom line,” but simply with hopes of faithfully embodying our identity as followers of Jesus."

"We tend to imagine that we need to have all the right tools, get all the right teaching, and only then do we go out and get involved in our communities.  I wonder if we think this way because we want to have some sort of guarantee that we’ll get results.  Or, maybe to pacify our fear of failure."

"About a year into our urban missional church experience, I was walking with my friend John Mortensen in our church’s local neighborhood.  We had imagined that God was going to do amazing things through our church.  After all, we were sent there as their salvation.  Or so we imagined."

"The on-the-ground realities slowly dissolved our romantic notions and our big dreams.  Rather than seeing lots of change in the neighborhood, we began seeing changes in ourselves.  That conversation made all of this make sense to me.  John and I came to the realization that we weren’t the salvation of that neighborhood.  God had us there in that neighborhood to save us."

"God was sustaining us and giving us life as we enjoyed conversations with people over a meal, as we shared about our lives and listened to their stories, and as we developed friendships of giving and receiving."

Click here for the original blog post.

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