Mission and the Need of an Adequate Foundation
To be a follower of Jesus is to be involved in the life of the world just as Jesus was involved in the life of the world. Jesus engaged with a broad section of Palestinian society during his earthly ministry. He interacted with the rich and the poor, the leaders and the marginalised, and many people in between these polarities. Admittedly, his message was contextually focus and it differed according to the challenges present in the lives of those he engaged and their relationship to and their perception of the kingdom of God. Jesus did not have a one-size-fits-all approach to people and their needs, but rather he dealt with their needs in context in a contextual manner. However, while he was intimately involved in the life of the world that he inhabited and the lives of people he encountered daily he recognised that he could not maintain such involvement unless he also maintained his walk with the Father. And so time and time again we read in the Gospels that he slipped off to a quiet place to renew and refresh his relationship with the Father through, prayer, the reading of and meditation on the Old Testament scriptures, fasting, and solitude and silence. In other words, he engaged in spiritual disciplines to maintain his spiritual life and to strengthen himself for engagement with and in the world he daily encountered.
Today we, as the people of God, are also called to engage in mission out there in the world but in being obedient to that call we had better be sure that we have been spiritually and theologically formed and are able to faithful practice the spiritual disciplines that God has provided, otherwise, we will be eaten alive! I say this because while we are called to incarnate into the culture or cultures that we are called to serve and to present the gospel in a culturally meaningful and appropriate manner, yet in doing so, there is a danger that we are colonized by that culture and assimilated into that culture and its pervading worldview. I have seen this happen to several of eager young people who have gone out to establish a new faith community out there in the world. But in the end, they were swamped by the world and its all-pervasive culture, and the main reason, as far as I can see, is that they have been inadequately formed both spiritually and theologically. Certainly, we need to go out and engage the world on its ground and not ours, but in doing so we had better make sure that we have an adequate foundation before we begin the outward journey and that we are constantly being renewed upon the way.
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