Friday, May 3, 2013

Reflections from the Journey

"For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." 1 Cor 13:12

The above has become one of my favorite verses. It speaks to my heart about all that I want to know and how little I truly do - of God, of life, of the journey I am on. But that's okay. I have come to a place in my life we're it's okay not to know, not to be so certain of what I think I do know, but to simply rest in the knowledge that I live by faith and by knowing God, even as imperfectly as I may. But I cling to "the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord." (Philippians 3:8) 

It's been said, life is a journey. Maybe that's cliche but the truth is that our time here on this rock is one of discovering all God wants us to know - of him. That is the journey. That is different than knowing about him. How often though we rush through our appointed days, week to week, years passing steadily by, taking little time to consider where we've been and what we've learned along the way. Some journal daily and it's a good spiritual practice, I guess, though I have never found any Scripture to support it. :-) That may be why I don't, but probably more like a lack of daily self-discipline. However, we do need to take time to reflect on our journey.

I'm at a point now in my life however where I want to reflect more on knowing and being fully known by God.  Our journey is not about what we come to know about God. Rather our journey is about what we know of our God, his abiding presence with us along the way, and what he wants us to know as he directs us. Our journey is not simply what we can learn from the Bible. The Bible only serves as a reference for what the Living God is teaching us. Rather our journey is about what we can learn through living our lives in him, through him and for him, especially as we listen to others who do it well.

It's for this reason, I am blogging about my journey, will be reflecting weekly on the lessons God is teaching me through each passing week as I follow where he leads, listen to the people he puts in my path and walk with him daily. I'm don't know if I'll do these reflective blog posts weekly but I sure hope it's not weakly. The following is the first entry for the week of May 3rd.

This Tuesday, I met with a new friend, Samson, for lunch. Samson is an Urdu speaking American-Pakistani with a wonderful ministry using radio to reach Urdu speaking Pakistani, who are mostly Muslims, in Dallas and Toronto. God has given Samson a wonderful heart for Muslims and over lunch he told me how he approaches his listeners - "human to human." My immediate thought was: "that's it' isn't it." I don't think I had heard the task of evangelism, and Samson is an evangelist, put in those terms. Samson has a deep abiding love for Muslims that came through in our discussion and I think is rooted in this idea of "human to human."

How often we think we are better, as Christians. That perception is prevalent in much of our cross-cultural apologetic today but it does little to connect people with Christ. We know what's right and others need to know what we think we know. Rather than take the time to connect "human to human," evangelism has become akin to selling Jesus. The kind of approach won't attract many people of a different culture because it doesn't communicate their values. But what is winning Muslims to Christ is the approach my friend Samson is using. Statistically, 84% of Muslims who come to faith in Christ say they did so because of the love of a Christian. 

But Samson's "human to human" thinking goes further still. Too often we objectify people as we stereotype them into neat categories instead of seeing the individual created in the image of God. Then the Boston Bombers are only Islamic Jihadists, "just like all Muslims," rather than two radicalized brothers, who happen to be Muslim. Ed Stetzer made a comment this week that is noteworthy on this subject: "You don't like to be stereotyped. Neither do I. So let's not do it to Muslims."

This idea of humanness means at least a few things: First, and most importantly it should keep the common bond, the fact we are created in the image of God, foremost in our minds. Only on this basis can we love others as ourselves. Two, our shared humanness also speaks to our common fallen condition. Each of us are in need of the redemptive grace of our God. And, third, because of our shared condition, we who know Christ, are obligated to make him known to others. Doing less would be less than the human thing to do.  

Also this week, a new Barna study found that only 14% of Christians are Christlike in attitude and action. My friend, Samson, is clearly within that 14%, loving Muslims as he does, from a basis of humanness. And then there was this quote I came across this week that is worth reflecting on: 
 "Christians aren't better than Muslims. Christians aren't better than Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. We all share in the same fallenness. We must love them like Christ. We must talk to them like Christ. We must invite them to Christ. But doing all of that requires that we first start thinking like Christ."
This week I also started rereading AW Tozers "Pursuit of God." I want my journey to be just that. So by thinking like Christ and living our shared humanness, in all its gore and glory, I hope others can see where God is leading and we'll pursue God together. 

That's it for this week. TGIF! 

In what ways does this statement, "Christians aren't better than Muslims," help you to see your own humanness? 


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