Thursday, September 28, 2006

Putting It All Together

The Nature of All Things - From Start to Finish
(every reality below depends on those preceding)

1) GOD ... Every good thing begins with & depends on the Triune God (Gen 1; Ps 127:1; Col 1:16; Jms 1:17).

2) LIFE ... God's primary interest & investment is life. (Gen 2:7 - breath of life; Gen 2:9 - tree of life; Gen 2:17 - opposite of God's plan is death; Jn 5:26 - Father & Son have life in Themselves; Acts 17:25 - life to all things; 1 Cor 15:26 - last enemy to be abolished is death; etc.).

3) RELATIONSHIPS ... Relationships make up the content & context of life, which is relationally defined & relationally dependent. God is a loving community of three, so all life reflects that core essential characteristic. Biblical examples include the 1st & 2nd Great Commissions (Gen 1:28; Mt 28:18-20) & the Great Commandment (Mt 22:36-39) which are all relational. Other relational agents (beside God & people) include angels (Lk 15:10), animals (Pr 12:10), & the whole creation(Rom 8:22). Death, the consequence of sin, describes total relational brokenness.

4) LOVE & TRUTH ... Every aspect of good relationships flow from a two-fold foundation of love & truth. This dominant biblical theme requires only a quick concordance search of "love" or "lovingkindness" & "truth" to make the point evident. Also exemplary are the creation account of Genesis 1 & redemption account of John 1. In both, God's life is preceded by light (truth) because of His love. In the highest expression of love ever, Jesus (the Word, the Truth) took our death on Himself so we could regain our relationship with God & the life He longs for us.

5) SIGNIFICANCE, ACCEPTABILITY, & CAPABILITY ... Authentic love is recognizing & responding to the true glory of the one being loved. A careful study of Scripture (affirmed by insight from psychological fields of study) reveals that the truth of glory, which love recognizes & responds to, exists in three categories: significance, acceptability, & capability. God is most signficant, acceptable, & capable; therefore He deserves the most love. People are next. So the greatest commandments are to love God & love people. God-honoring, self-love is simply agreeing in our hearts with the Maker's word that we are signficant, acceptable, & capable... which empowers us, in the leading & power of God's Spirit, to defer our glory so that we might participate in the glory of others in loving relationship (remember, relationships are the essence of life). All of this is in the context of dependence on the Author, Sustainer, Redeemer, & Perfector of life. Sin & death do not remove our significance, acceptability, & capability, but break our relationship with our hearts so we can no longer see them. Only in humble dependence can we receive Christ's redemption that reconciles our broken relationships with God, ourselves, & the truth (therefore God is opposed to the proud or independent).

6) CREATIVITY, EMOTION, & COURAGE ... These are the primary expressions & points of connection for significance, acceptability, & capability. A person who embraces their significance offers their creativity to others, because they believe they have something to offer. A person who embraces their acceptability offers their fully engaged & expressed emotion to others because vulnerability doesn't threaten them. A person who embraces their capability offers their courage to others because they believe they can succeed. The way we recognize & respond to significance, acceptability, & capability (i.e. the way we love) is by affirming & participating in mutually shared creativity, emotion, & courage!

So, every good thing begins with & depends on God who's primary investment is Life, defined as Relationships founded on Love & Truth, which is recognizing & responding to others' Significance, Acceptability & Capability by affirming & participating in Creativity, Emotion, & Courage to the glory of God who is "all in all" (1 Cor 15:28).

Missional Application:
  • First, we forsake our independence & cast ourselves, dependently, on God as our all in all.
  • We then receive His life for us ... which is all about relationships.
  • Because we understand that life is all about relationships, we invest into love (loving God & people).
  • Love is accomplished by recognizing & responding to the truth of each other’s significance, acceptability, & capability,
  • Which we do by by affirming & participating in creativity, emotion, & courage, revealing God’s beautiful design for humanity, the obstacle sin creates for accomplishing that design, & our need for a Savior in Jesus.

Missional Application as Related to the 4 Values:

Wholistic, Messianic Spirituality (holiness in truth vs. dualism or carnal compromise)

  • Life with God requires a Wholistic, Messianic Spirituality, as demonstrated by Jesus our Example, in contrast to the popular dualistic spirituality of the West that disparages “earthly” aspects of living (e.g. relationships with mind, body, world, earthly tasks, etc.).
  • Biblical Examples: Rom 12:1; Col 3:16-17; 1 Tim 4:5

Acts 2 Communal Living ("family" together in proximity vs. isolated individualism) & Gift-Based, Team Functionality (synergetic mutuality vs. institutional-power hierarchies)

  • Life (Relationships based on Love & Truth) as experienced among Christ-followers, takes the form of Acts 2 Communal Living, in contrast to the isolated individualism of our culture & Gift-Based, Team-Functionality, in contrast to institutional power-hierarchies.
  • Biblical Examples for Acts 2 Communal Living: Mt 12:46-50; Acts 2, Rom 12:10
  • Biblical Examples for Gift-Based, Team Functionality: Rom 12:3-13; Eph 4:10-12; 5:21

Incarnational, Process-Oriented Missiology (strategic going & growing vs. program attractionalism, agenda-driven relationships, & non-strategic presence)

  • Life (Relationships based on Love & Truth) as experienced among not-yet-Christ-followers takes the form of Incarnational, Process-Oriented Missionality, which seeks to build authentic Relationships in Love by celebrating & participating in mutually shared Creativity, Emotion, & Courage, thus recognizing & responding to the Truth of their Significance, Acceptability, & Capability, as defined by God.
  • Biblical Examples: Gospels; Mk 12:34 (on process-oriented); 1 Cor 9:19-22

Thus, the whole Gospel is preached & evangelism takes place in a sustainable, relational environment, conducive to growth & follow-up.


Missional Jerry said...

excellent post John.

Anonymous said...

really good summary, thanks for putting it so well

Makeesha said...

Fantastic John, LOVE IT.

you think like I do. I have so many of those "summaries of things" in my journals.